An all-out war has broken out between two of the biggest football clubs in Cyprus, Apollon and Anorthosis, after the Limassol club alleged Anorthosis’ goalkeeper was ineligible to take part in a recent match between the two sides.
Nigerian national Francis Uzoho was acquired by the Famagusta side last Thursday, the transfer deadline day, and was on the starting line-up for the Saturday game against Apollon, which Anorthosis won, 1-0.
Apollon’s objection rests on whether the Nigerian goalkeeper had a valid health card, a requirement for any footballer to be allowed to compete in a football game.
The health card is the responsibility of the Cyprus Sports Organisation (KOA) and is issued following a review of the player’s medical records. The results of a physical must also be submitted but it is not mandatory for that procedure to take place in Cyprus.
In a statement on Tuesday, Apollon questioned how a player who arrived in Cyprus on Friday afternoon, shortly before 4pm, could have had his health card issued about an hour before KOA’s offices closed on Friday at 2.30pm.
KOA convened urgently on Tuesday to review the matter and issued a statement saying that the card was valid based on the information they had at their disposal at the time, which met all the prerequisites.
However, KOA added that it considered Apollon’s complaint very serious and it may need further investigation by other authorities.
On Tuesday, Apollon reported the case to the police, suggesting the medical records may be forged. Police reportedly started their probe on Wednesday and their first stop was the KOA offices.
Cyprus Football Association (CFA) will adjudicate on the matter on Monday, probably before the police investigation is completed and well before any decision is made by the notoriously slow judicial system.
The question that arises here is what information the CFA judge can use to come to his decision especially when KOA has already ruled that the Nigerian’s health card was valid.
If the CFA judge rules in favour of Apollon the Famagusta team will be docked 6 points for using an ineligible player and will also lose the three points for winning the game.