Inside the game, my month-long election campaign experience in the Cyprus Football Association

By Demos Georgiades

Stepping into the political labyrinth of the Cyprus Football Association (CFA), I had expectations. I anticipated challenges, resistance and possibly a bitter dose of reality. Nevertheless, the corruption I encountered was a punch that left me reeling. Our favourite sport is overshadowed by an intricate web of dubious dealings and questionable practices.

It wasn’t long into my involvement in a month-long election campaign before I realized the pervasive fear governing the football clubs. Their dependency on the CFA was evident and gravely troubling. Rather than independent entities with the power of free will, they were trapped, ensnared by an association whose strings can easily pull them in whichever direction it chose.

The complexity of the CFA elections is an interwoven mess of fear, power and dependencies. The current system is such that the incumbent president is almost untouchable, using the clubs’ dependency to secure his reign.

The issue at the heart of it all is the disturbing concentration of power. The respective CFA president reigns; he wields an excessive amount of influence and power, creating an environment of unquestioning compliance. The excessive power held by the CFA president has led to an imbalanced and stifling atmosphere for Cyprus football.

Decentralising this power is the key. It means transferring the decision-making authority to a broader set of independent authorities which are not linked with CFA. This not only curbs the potential for corruption but also brings diverse perspectives into play. This increased participation can steer the course of Cyprus football towards a more inclusive and transparent future. It is highly inappropriate in a contemporary association for all legal authorities, or judges, to be solely appointed by the president. This structure not only raises questions about impartiality but also threatens the checks and balances necessary for a fair and transparent organisation.

With an intention of reenergising Cyprus football, there are several novel suggestions rather than the decentralisation of power, that I believe could pave the way for a brighter future.

Firstly, the adoption of technology, such as blockchain systems, can ensure transparency in dealings and operations. This could effectively combat corrupt practices and foster trust among all stakeholders.

Secondly, there is vast untapped potential in utilising school football fields. Collaborating with the ministry to improve these facilities can create a win-win situation; clubs gain access to more training grounds, and schools benefit from improved sports facilities.

Thirdly, a reconsideration of the tax allocation from betting platforms is needed. Currently, the government reaps significant revenues from these platforms, but a fairer distribution model could see more of these funds channelled towards supporting clubs, further enhancing the development of football in the country.

Another suggestion is to provide incentives for the use of local players, particularly within smaller teams. Rewarding teams that give Cypriot players the platform to shine nurtures homegrown talent that could improve the terrible current situation of our national team. All money collected from penalties for not using Cypriot players should be paid to the teams that adhere to and apply the rules.

Despite the sobering reality, I am left with an unshakeable belief in the vast potential of Cyprus football. There’s a wealth of talent, passion, and an insatiable love for the game in Cyprus. We have all the ingredients to propel Cyprus football to high standards. But to reach these potentials, a metamorphosis is necessary. The corruption, fear and dependency need to be uprooted, making way for transparency, courage, and independence.

The above challenges reflect a broader societal issue. The corruption, fear and dependence mirrored within the CFA are indicative of deeper systemic issues within our society.

It took immense courage to challenge the status quo, to raise a voice against the current reality. The systemic and constitutional issues plaguing the CFA are deep-seated, and any solution demands an extraordinary fortitude and unwavering determination.

It’s clear that the road to redemption for Cyprus football is not a short or easy one.