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Football chairman and referee to stand trial over match-fixing (updated)

The chairman of a second division football club and a referee were referred to trial before a criminal court on Thursday in connection with fixing a game earlier this month.

Ayia Napa chairman Demetris Masias, 39, and Andreas Constantinou, 33, were detained earlier this month on suspicion of rigging the second division fixture between Othellos and Ayia Napa that took place on February 8.

The court decided to release the pair under certain conditions, rejecting a prosecution request to hold them on remand until the start of their trial on March 17.

Masias is also a player manager and a former top-flight referee.

Constantinou has since been banned from officiating any other football games.

Masias has been accused of attempting to bribe an Othellos official with €10,000 to lose the game with Ayia Napa.

Constantinou, who officiated the game, showed three red cards to Othellos players and awarded Ayia Napa a penalty on the 97th minute which won them the fixture.

Masias faces nine charges and Constantinou three.

According to the charge sheet the two conspired to manipulate the result of the game between Othellos and Ayia Napa on February 7 and 8, and they personally manipulated the result of the game in question.

Masias faces six other charges relating to attempt to manipulate the result and bribery. The former referee is also accused of trying to influence one of the players he managed, Othellos’ Vasilis Papageorgiou.

On February 6, he called Papageorgiou and allegedly asked him to help Ayia Napa win the game, the court heard.

Police said Masias offered Othellos chairman Vasilis Kafataris €10,000 in return for his team letting Ayia Napa win the game.

Prosecutor Giorgos Stavrou asked the court to remand the two suspects in custody pending trial, arguing that they could try to flee the country. The state prosecutor also raised the possibility of them attempting to influence witnesses and destroy evidence.

Masias’ lawyer, Chris Triantafyllides, strongly objected the request, arguing that the state has done all it had to do to support its case.

Triantafyllides said his client had been in eight separate police stations during his detention in the past week and accused the authorities of being indifferent to an individual’s freedom.

“The court is the guardian of a citizen’s virtue and liberty,” the attorney said.

Triantafyllides said his client was married with two children, had parents, siblings, and businesses in Cyprus and was not planning on fleeing.

“On the contrary, he wants to appear before court to clear his name in a society that has condemned him. He does not intend to influence anyone.”

Andros Pelecanos, defending Constantinou, suggested that prosecutors were trying to put together a case based on circumstantial evidence “and nothing else.”

Pelecanos said the police had testimony from three witnesses relating to the referee’s behaviour, suggesting “the whole story is based on opinion evidence.”

He said it was tragic that his client was arrested and detained based on such evidence.

“Essentially the investigators comment on the referee’s decisions, whether they were right or wrong, without being experts,” he said.

Pelecanos argued that his client was not at flight risk, having a wife and two underage children.

The court ordered the suspects’ release after surrendering their travel documents. They signed a €75,000 bond each and ordered to report to a police station three times week



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Source: Cyprus News Agency