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Former president Anastasiades again rejects match-fixing allegations (update 2)

Anastasiades, press, conference, speech
Former president Nicos Anastasiades

Former President Nikos Anastasiades strongly rejected the “malicious allegations” over interference in match-fixing investigations on Wednesday as former chairman of the sports ethics committee Andreas Papacharalambous doubled down on his claims.

Papacharalambous maintained that, while he was in office, Anastasiades called him and asked him not to look into allegations of match fixing regarding a friendly football match between Apollon and Karmiotissa.

These claims were immediately rubbished by Anastasiades, but Papacharalambous insisted that the former president called him and asked why they were looking into a specific match and whether they had nothing better to do. Papacharalambous replied that they will continue investigations at which point Anastasiades began shouting.

The House ethics committee was summoned to discuss the matter and on Wednesday MPs heard a wide range of claims and counterclaims, with serious questions raised as to how Cyprus investigates shady practices in sports.

Those concerns centred on how Uefa’s red notices sent to Cyprus are handled, while there were also accusations that the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) covered for teams when faced with accusations of match fixing. MPs heard reports of bizarre scores and highly improbable outcomes.

“I don’t care if he’s the former president,” Papacharalambous said, before raising the former president’s trip to the Seychelles as he sought to paint Anastasiades as dishonest.

“He didn’t admit that he went to the Seychelles, he then told us that he went once and in the end he went twice – he committed perjury and none of you [MPs] commented on it, it’s not hard to figure out this man’s character,” Papacharalambous told the committee.

Papacharalambous was also reported as saying that he did not report the case earlier as Anastasiades’ immunity was not set to be lifted.

He further stated the ethics committee had been fundamentally unable to do its job as it was created without being able to make decisions, since the needed regulations were lacking. Papacharalambous added that six requests had been sent to the justice ministry but this led nowhere, offering that any case which may be brought to court will be dropped.

But in a lengthy statement released on Wednesday – just hours prior to the meeting, which he was not invited to attend – the former president denounced the claims.

Anastasiades turned the spotlight onto Papacharalambous and argued that it was instead the former chairman who acted improperly, also blasting the allegations as having been made with a hidden agenda.

In his statement, Anastasiades set out a timeline as the former president argued that he called for meetings to resolve the matters raised but found Papacharalambous to be unwilling to work together.

Anastasiades further blamed Papacharalambous for the sinking of the “very important” sports ethics committee, arguing that his actions led to three of the five members resigning, therefore rendering the committee useless.

Papacharalambous later resigned in February 2021.

Former member of the sports committee Charis Savvides told MPs that in the space of 18 months they received 11 red notices for Karmiotissa and five for Ermis.

Regarding the disputed friendly game between Karmiotissa and Apollon, the bet was that three goals would be scored in the second half. In particular, he added, the first half of the match ended 0-0 and the final score was 0-4. The red envelope, he said, placed the blame solely on Karmiotissa.

In another file concerning a friendly match between Karmiotissa and AEL, the note from Uefa was that the match had been withdrawn from all bookmakers, even Asian ones, while the bets placed were that there would be nine goals.

This particular friendly, according to Savvides, ended 8-1 in favour of AEL with AEL’s eighth goal coming late as part of the goalkeeper’s own goal.

Savvides claimed that the CFA withheld files from the committee for months.

MPs also heard that all major stakeholders – ranging from the police and ministries – are in favour of amending the law so the sports ethics committee is kept up to date with cases being investigated by the legal services.

Earlier this month, Papacharalambous re-published his resignation letter in which he stated the reasons for leaving, which said there were serious gaps in the legislation dealing with cases of match fixing.

In his letter, Papacharalmbous had written: “Shortly after I was appointed (as the president of the sports ethics committee), we identified serious weaknesses in the legislation due to a lack of proper regulations.

“We informed the president, the justice ministry and the leaders of political parties Disy, Akel, Diko and Edek. We explained the situation to them very thoroughly. To date, nothing has been done.”

He also said the committee attempted to find solutions to match-fixing allegations for a year, without however, being aware of who would be able to address the situation.

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