Cyprus Mail

CFA considers calling in foreign refs amid growing corruption claims

Justice Minister George Savvides, police chief Kypros Michaelides and CFA head George Koumas at a meeting last week(Christos Theodorides)

The chairman of the football association (CFA) will hold a meeting on Tuesday with the referee association to discuss having foreign referees officiating first division fixtures following fresh claims of match fixing.

A CFA announcement effectively confirmed what had been reported recently that it had decided to use foreign referees after the latest claims and complaints about the officiating standards.

CFA boss Giorgos Koumas will meet with the board of the referee association with the focus being “the decision of the association’s executive committee to invite foreign referees to officiate” league games.

The CFA is under pressure to clean up the island’s football after several notices had been received recently from European governing body Uefa suggesting match fixing.

Those were added to dozens more received in the recent years.

On top of that, the leadership of one of the island’s biggest clubs, Omonia Nicosia, is offering monetary rewards to anyone who could provide proof of match fixing.

The club’s chairman, Stavros Papastavrou, had recently alleged that titles in Cyprus can be bought for the right price but he has refused to give a statement to police or furnish the authorities with proof.

John Panayi pictured fourth from right, back row

In a related development, the chairman of second division side Aris, John Panayi, announced his resignation on Thursday citing the goings on in Cypriot football.

Panayi’s car had been the target of a bomb last week in an attack that put his two young children at risk.

In a letter to the CFA, Panayi said it was blatantly obvious that the attack aimed at forcing him to abandon the team “so that Aris is financially ruined and unable to fight for promotion to the first division”.

On Wednesday, the CFA decided to cut all grants to Aris and Karmiotissa after a notice suggesting a game January 12 game between them had been fixed.

The bomb had been placed on the rear wheel of Panayi’s car that was parked in the driveway of his house in Limassol. The explosion, which occurred at 4.30am, damaged the car and shattered windows of the house.

The blast shattered the glass of the balcony door in the room where his two children, a 12-year-old boy and an eight-year-old girl, were sleeping, throwing pieces of glass on the bed of his daughter.

The week before that, the CFA temporarily postponed all scheduled fixtures in all leagues after referees protested over a car bomb placed on a car belonging to 33-year-old referee Andreas Constantinou.

From the beginning, investigators turned their attention to Constantinou’s involvement with football, specifically to a fixture between Doxa and AEL which ended in a 2-2 draw. After the game, AEL had expressed complaints about the refereeing.


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