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Apoel fans face ban after using lasers

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Two Apoel fans are facing stadium bans after being identified via CCTV as using prohibited laser pens to distract Ethnikos Achnas goalkeeper Martin Bogadinov during a football league match last month, police from the bases said on Tuesday.

The men, aged 57 and 17, both from Nicosia, admitted guilt under questioning on February 15 after SBA police officers used fan cards and CCTV to identify them in the away end during Apoel’s 2-1 loss to the hosts.

The match was one of the final games to be played with away fans present, after the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) issued a country-wide ban on visiting supporters due to escalating violence inside stadiums.

SBA Superintendent Panicos Panayi, who headed the police operation during the match, said the arrests were made possible by the meticulous investigative work of his officers when studying the CCTV in the days after the fixture.

“With so many people present and so much going on during a match it is not easy to identify the individuals carrying out the offence,” he said.

“But thanks to some great work by the officers present and by liaising closely with the CFA, we were able to identify the fans responsible and bring them in for questioning, where they then admitted to the charges.”

The use of laser pens has grown in prominence across the world in recent years as fans look to help their side gain a strategic advantage by distracting opposing players.

“It’s illegal, it’s cheating and it is potentially dangerous for the players being targeted and we as a police force will simply not tolerate this type of behaviour inside our stadium,” Panayi said.

“The safety of the players and the fans during matches is so important and we will act decisively against those that look to undermine our police priorities.

“We are also working hard to ensure that violence, threatening behaviour and the use of fireworks inside our stadium is eradicated and we will continue to liaise closely with the Cyprus football authorities and club officials to ensure that happens.”

The two men are now expected to appear before the SBA court in Dhekelia at a date yet to be disclosed.

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