Cyprus football does not enjoy a very good reputation. Not even fans that follow it every week, going to the ground to support their team, have a very high regard for the game. There are many reasons for this, but the main one is the football clubs and the people that run them. Nobody has done more to bring the game into disrepute than this group, which is incapable of acting in a responsible way, always putting what they regard as the club’s interests above those of the game, unable to understand that by so doing they make a mockery of Cyprus football.
It is the boards of clubs that issue fiery announcements lambasting the referee when their team loses, alleging conspiracies by the football authorities, avoiding condemning hooligan behaviour by their fans (they are always provoked), always blaming the police for crowd violence and so forth. Add to this the repeated flagging of unusual betting activity for matches in Cyprus by Uefa and allegations made by foreign players about match-rigging, after they have left, and it is not a very pretty picture of the beautiful game.
Over the last couple of weeks the controversy surrounding the medical card of Nigerian goalkeeper Francis Uzoho that led to three arrests served as a reminder of everything that is wrong with football. Uzoho was issued a medical card by the Cyprus Sports Federation (Koa) while he was on a plane flying to Cyprus and was thus eligible to play in a match for his new side, Anorthosis, the following day. That day’s opponent, Apollonas, filed an objection with the Cyprus Football Association (CFA), claiming he was ineligible to play because the card was obtained irregularly.
Koa first said the card was legally issued but finally decided the issuing of the card “never happened”, thus forcing the CFA to dock nine points from Anorthosis, while awarding the game to Apollonas. Koa’s decision changing was comical but in the end there is little doubt that the medical card should not have been issued without the player being examined by a doctor. Predictably, Anorthosis condemned the CFA decision to dock points “with abhorrence” and accused Koa President Andreas Michaelides of messing up the case, undermining the status of Koa and increasing mistrust in football. The club also alleged that Michaelides had taken the decision that favoured Apollonas because he was from Limassol.
The irony is that the Anorthosis board could not comprehend that its statement increases mistrust in football more than the actual decision by claiming it was taken to favour another club. The fact is Anorthosis broke the football rules and was punished for it. If nothing was done about the blatant violation of CFA rules would it have boosted confidence and trust in football?