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President calls for calm, warns all fans will be banned from sporting events

ctp christos
The destroyed CPT offices (Christos Theodorides)

Fans need to behave otherwise all sporting matches will be held without spectators, President Nikos Christodoulides warned on Tuesday following violent clashes at a basketball semi-final at the weekend.

“This deviant behaviour cannot be repeated. Many share responsibility on the matter and everyone should take on the responsibility they have,” he said.

On Monday, a meeting was held at the justice ministry to discuss the latest episode of sports violence which took place at the Apollon-Anorthosis basketball match on Sunday at a stadium in Nicosia.

Three policemen were injured in the incident which also saw the offices of the bus company opposite the stadium burned down. Two people have been arrested.

Christodoulides said that he had studied the report drawn up about the incident on Monday, and that on Wednesday he will announce very targeted decisions on the matter.

“Enough with this [fan rioting] issue. It has been discussed over and over, and every time following incidents there are meetings upon meetings. It is time to act,” he said. Decision are expected to be announced following a meeting of the cabinet on Wednesday.

Internal police procedures may also be making the situation worse. Officers are conscientiously not getting involved in these kind of incidents, due to the fact that there are oversight committees “waiting to pounce on officers for even the slightest mistake”, head of police union Asdyk Loucas Andreou told CyBC radio on Tuesday.

He added that the issue is not simply a problem of the police, but rather a societal problem, and that the police do not act because they do not feel that they have the support of the government.

According to authorities, fans began fighting with officers before the start of the match at Tassos Papadopoulos Eleftheria Stadium when they tried to enter without a ticket.

Police said that they threw rocks at them, and in an attempt to restore order authorities used tear gas.

Following the incidents outside, police said that the rioting continued inside during the match, where the fans of both clubs began to clash with officers.

Police said after the match rioting broke out outside the stadium, which led to the fire and the intervention of four fire engines.

Manager of Cyprus Public Transport (CPT), Alexandros Kamberos, told CyBC thousands of euros of damage had been caused by the burning down of his company’s offices and the loss of electronic equipment.

The bus station near the stadium is shut until further notice and commuters must catch the bus from the other side of the road.

Police arrested two 27-year-olds, one of whom was found in possession of a half-smoked cannabis cigarette, who was charged and released on Monday.

The second, also 27, was on Tuesday remanded in police custody for four days.

Apollon basketball club on Monday said the violent episodes has nothing to do with basketball or sports in general and lamented the fact that delinquent behaviours by some tarnished the club’s efforts to advance the sport.

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