Cyprus Mail

Cyprus parliament discusses sports betting law amendment

The investigation into the corruption found inside Cypriot football is once again at the forefront. On Monday, the Sports Ethics Committee notified 33 football clubs from the island’s first three divisions, as well as the women's football championship, that they have been summoned to hand over evidence and other information to the committee’s chief investigator.

The Cyprus parliament has begun debating an amendment to a sports betting law after it was first brought up for discussion three years ago. The professional players’ union, PASP, was also in attendance.

One of the proposed changes to the sports betting law includes the utilisation of a percentage of all tax revenue generated from betting to support, educate and medically treat footballers across all levels in Cyprus. Current estimates put that number at over 3,500 players. This estimate includes professionals, amateurs, and children.

More specifically, the amendment proposes that 0.3 per cent of all income stemming from sports betting is funnelled into PASP programmes. These programmes include helping football players’ mental health, something which unfortunately has come back to the surface after Miljan Mrdaković’s suicide on May 22 this year.

PASP’s programmes also support the Red Button initiative, which aims to immediately detect fixed matches, as well as providing education and support to PASP members through college scholarships, specialised training, and more.

These programmes are beneficial to the entirety of Cypriot football, including players themselves, clubs, the Cyprus Football Association and all other bodies involved in the sport.

“We salute this proposal put forth at the House of Representatives which has finally triggered a discussion after a period of three years. We are certain that the relevant officials will decide what’s best for the common good of Cypriot sports”, said PASP executive president Spyros Neofytides.

In terms of mental health, according to a study from Vincent Gouttebarge and Gino Kerkhoffs from the University of Amsterdam, professional footballers have a prevalence for various common mental disorders, including adverse alcohol use, anxiety, depression, and distress.

The study also includes findings related to the effect of injuries, especially injuries which prevent them from playing for a sustained period of time. These injuries have been found to increase the likelihood of a professional football player reporting symptoms related to their mental health, especially when contrasted with colleagues who have not suffered such injuries.

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