Cyprus FA to crack down on sus­pected match-fix­ing

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

The Cyprus Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion is vow­ing to im­pose se­vere penal­ties on clubs sus­pected of match-fix­ing after UEFA ranked the coun­try's cham­pi­onship to be among the worst of­fend­ers in Europe. Mar­ios Le­fkari­tis, the as­so­ci­a­tion's hon­orary pres­i­dent and a UEFA vice pres­i­dent, said that he was "ashamed and shocked" when told by UEFA of the prob­lem's ex­tent.

He said UEFA sus­pects six first­di­vi­sion matches and a do­mes­tic cup match may have been fixed since Septem­ber. The Cyprus FA has re­ceived files on 75 matches sus­pected of be­ing fixed since 2011, Le­fkari­tis said. "We're among the top three or four coun­tries that have the most matches sus­pected of be­ing fixed," Le­fkari­tis told The As­so­ci­ated Press. "It ceases to be a sus­pi­cion and be­comes ex­tremely wor­ry­ing when you have a file sent to you about a sus­pected fixed match al­most ev­ery week." Le­fkari­tis said most of the bet­ting on the matches un­der sus­pi­cion has taken place in Asia. He be­lieves that only those par­tic­i­pat­ing in the match can de­ter­mine its out­come. "The peo­ple who do the job are the play­ers and the ref­er­ees, who else? No one else can do this," Le­fkari­tis said. Cyprus FA pres­i­dent Costakis Kout­sok­oum­nis was quoted by state-run ra­dio as say­ing that he's aware of one player who has been im­pli­cated in nine matches sus­pected of be­ing fixed. He also said that he re­gret­ted al­low­ing a team sus­pected of be­ing in­volved in match-fix­ing to be el­e­vated to the first divi­sion this year.

In an ad hoc gen­eral as­sem­bly meet­ing on Mon­day, the Cyprus FA said penal­ties would mir­ror those rec­om­mended by UEFA. They could in­clude an ini­tial heavy fine for a sus­pected first of­fense, fol­lowed by a point loss for a sec­ond and rel­e­ga­tion for a third. Teams sus­pected of match­fix­ing a fourth time would in­cur a lengthy ban. Cyprus FA board mem­bers will agree on the specifics at their next meet­ing. "We have to act right away," Kout­sok­oum­nis told the as­sem­bly. "We've reached the tip­ping point. Soon we'll have nei­ther spon­sors, fans or even a cham­pi­onship." Cyprus foot­ball has been dogged by cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions in re­cent years. More­over, sev­eral bomb at­tacks against ref­er­ees' cars and prop­er­ties have oc­curred. Cyprus' jus­tice min­is­ter, Ionas Ni­co­laou, said leg­is­la­tion is in the pipe­line that will help po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors pros­e­cute match-fix­ing cases.

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