Five cases of suspicious matches out of a total of 12 investigated by a special branch of the police have been sent for prosecution, police chief Stelios Papatheodorou said on Tuesday.

He added that from 2019 to date, 19 cases of allegedly fixed matches have been reported to the authorities, all second division and cup games.

Papatheodorou was speaking during a conference organised as part of the IntegriSport Next European project, in which the Cyprus police is participating.

The project is co-funded by the EU’s Erasmus+ programme, and aims to raise awareness among law enforcement and judicial authorities about criminal activities within the world of sport across Europe.

“We are deeply involved in the investigative aspect of the problem, conducting data and analysis for evidence purposes and prosecuting offences related to the manipulation of sporting events,” Papatheodorou said.

He also said that the police are currently investigating a case in which football players seemingly bet on matches in which their own team was taking part, as well as another case related to an attempt to manipulate cricket matches on the island, which was flagged by Interpol.

“These are very complicated and time-consuming cases to deal with, as we usually need help from authorities in other countries,” Papatheodorou said.

To better deal with the situation, in February 2020 the Intellectual Property Theft and Illegal Betting Offences Branch of the Cybercrime Sub-Division was established to deal with offences related to illegal betting and match fixing.

“The branch was responsible for sending five cases for criminal prosecution in the last year, a number we consider very promising,” Papatheodorou said.

“At the same time, it is very important to mention that, in order to solve such cases, the assistance and cooperation of competent and relevant bodies, sports associations, betting companies and public authorities, both in Cyprus and abroad, is paramount.

“Only through local and international cooperation we will be able to fight against the organised crime world responsible for match fixing”.