The government intends to hold all matches without the presence of fans if the violence in the stadiums continues, President Nikos Christodoulides emphasised on Saturday.

Following last week’s incidents of violence in football matches that led to the injury of a player, the president said he had communicated with the President of the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) Georgios Koumas.

The president said that he asked Kouma to inform football clubs that “we cannot tolerate this situation any longer and the intention of the state is, if this state of affairs is not ended, all matches will be played without the presence of fans,” he told reporters in Inia. He added that the co-decision of the CFA is also needed.

On Friday, the CFA announced a ban on away fans from all competitive football matches for the remainder of the season, as of January 26. The move aims to address escalating incidents of violence in stadiums and facilitate police efforts to ensure match security.

Asked about the issue of rising crime and what the government is expected to do about it, the president said that several statements have been made on this very serious problem that is of concern to the society. “What matters is the implementation of specific actions and the announcement of those actions once they are implemented,” he said.

Meanwhile, CFA spokesman Constantinos Shiamboulis said the association’s decision to ban away fans from all competitive football matches was “imperative” because the situation had reached a point where further postponements could not be tolerated.

He referred to consecutive incidents of violence in stadiums that endangered football players and others present on the field.

“We believe that by banning the movement of fans, we facilitate the police in securing the matches. There will be no need for separate stands, monitoring fans’ marches to other cities or other stadiums for away games, and confrontations between fans of different teams at stadiums will be avoided. We hope that this measure will bring immediate results.”

He noted that the ban was not something they wanted, but certain actions had to be taken to prevent worse outcomes. When asked about responsibility for the situation in stadiums, he stated that this is something the police and stadium authorities can answer.

Shiamboulis emphasised that football is an extension of society and that there is a general escalation of violence in society, not just in stadiums.

Regarding the reactions of the teams to the decision, Shiamboulis stressed that the decision was unanimous within the CFA Board of Directors and must be respected by everyone.

However, he added that some teams, especially smaller ones expecting to play against teams with many fans, will lose income due to this measure.

Simultaneously, reports emerged of acts of vandalism at the CFA building in response to the decision, with slogans spray-painted on the structure.

The damage has been promptly restored, and the police are investigating the incident.