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Cyprus football

CFA looking at strict penalties for second-division match-fixing

After suspending the second division league due to widespread match fixing, the football association is looking to introduce strict measures to stamp out the phenomenon, similar to those currently in force in the first division.

The CFA on Tuesday decided to suspend the league after an in-depth discussion of the repeated phenomenon of division two fixtures possibly being fixed as suggested by notifications sent by the European football governing body UEFA.

The CFA said measures will be put in place in coordination with UEFA before any decision is made for the league to resume.

In December 2016, the CFA was forced by UEFA to put strict measures in place after repeated notifications concerning suspicious betting activity in the top division.

Our View: Clubs’ lack of funds is the root cause of match-fixing

The first so-called red notice about a club carries a €50,000 fine, with second-time offences attracting the same monetary sanctions plus the deduction of six points from their league table score.

A third notice would see the offender relegated and be deprived of all grants and revenues the club would have received from the CFA for participating in the competition.

A further notice would leave the club facing the imposition of an additional €100,000 fine and be stricken off the register of the federation, with no entitlement to be re-registered for a participation in the CFA championship for a period of five years.

Several teams were slapped with the €50,000 fines in 2017 and observers suggest match fixing through betting appears to be a thing of the past as regards division one.

However, it has become widespread in division two, as clubs there have no sources of income.

In December 2017, parliament also approved the establishment of a five-member ethics committee and strict penalties for offenders as an additional measure.

The law defines match-fixing as an offence carrying seven years in prison and a fine up to €200,000 for those found guilty.

Bribery offences concerning officials and athletes carry a five-year prison sentence and a €100,000 fine.

The law also allows for the return of profits made off match fixing.

Match fixing has become a scourge in Cyprus, affecting the top flight and the second division.

The law bans betting by athletes, club officials, referees, and members of the football association. Club officials will be banned from representing athletes.

The legislation also includes provisions for protecting athletes who blow the whistle and banning termination of their contract.

Spyros Neophytides, the chairman of the football players association said the goings-on were not news to them.

“We have known these things for the past five years,” he told sports site Kerkida.net.

He said the association handed to police, the CFA, and the justice minister, the findings of its own investigation and players were summoned to give statements.

Players were willing to talk as long as their anonymity was safeguarded, Neophytides said, but no decision to make that happen has been taken.

The authorities have never prosecuted anyone for match fixing, arguing they could not secure any proof.

Nor did the authorities achieve much with evidence provided by a former referee, Marios Panayi, in 2014.

Panayi said the CFA’s late chairman Costakis Koutsokoumnis and his deputy at the time, current head Giorgos Koumas, have destroyed Cypriot football.

He claimed the CFA appointed referees who were willing to shape a game’s result and that they are the ones who decide which teams are relegated.

Panayi identified Koumas as the man pulling the strings, claiming he was the one who decided on referee appointments and that he has close ties to football clubs and political parties.

Panayi had handed authorities recorded conversations, documents, and other evidence exposing people within the CFA as the ones “running the show” when it comes to local football.

However, it is understood that the manner they were secured, which appears to be unlawful, along with the authorities’ apparent failure to corroborate the allegations, led to a dead end.

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