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Footballers in Cyprus, fed up of violence, want safety guarantees

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A Nea Salamina player was injured by a flare thrown from the crowd

Football players in Cyprus have renewed calls for their safety at fixtures after a first division player was injured by a flare during a match on Tuesday night.

The top tier Nea Salamina against APOEL Nicosia game was interrupted after a flare landed close to where home substitute players were warming up.

Footage showed Nea Salamina player George Papageorgiou rolling on the ground, clutching his head. Hospital tests showed impaired hearing in his left ear, media reports said.

The incident came days after PASP, the football players’ union, said it could consider boycotting games unless safety at fixtures improved.

“What is happening is unbelievable, it is something beyond frustrating,” said PASP executive chair Spyros Neophytides.

PASP had already expressed mounting concern at players’ safety on Jan. 9, and had sought meetings with law enforcement authorities. Dangerous items including firecrackers, flares and glass bottles were being smuggled into sports grounds, while the number of stewards was also insufficient, it said.

PASP have a meeting scheduled with the Cyprus FA on Thursday morning and will meet later in the day to decide whether further action is warranted, Neophytides told Reuters.

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