Two weeks ago a Venezuelan footballer, who played for Olympiakos Nicosia, told police that “he was beaten and forced at gunpoint to sign papers saying that he would not claim the wages owed to him by his Nicosia club,” You can read it here in Cyprus Mail. The story even found its way to Sports Illustrated.
This came a few weeks after the Cyprus Football Association was informed by an online betting company that that the cup game between Aris and Ethnikos Achnas was subjct to suspicious betting activities. The CFA’s “response” was to postpone and reschedule the match. This is the CFA link of the announcement.
In January of this year another game, between Ermis and Paralimni, had been postponed again after suspicious betting activities were reported to the CFA. Ironically, this game was rescheduled and played on the day that the Aris-Ethnikos game was cancelled.
At the same time several Cypriot Football Clubs are requesting that foreign referees are brought in to officiate the play-off games (the 3rd phase of the championship) because Cypriot referees cannot be trusted with this task due to incompetence but mostly due to corruption.
Finally, the president of a 1st Division Football Club is (allegedly) a well-known and leading figure of organised crime in Cyprus. The Tony Soprano of Cyprus so to speak.
Yet, there is an acceptance in Cyprus that this is ok. Perfect for “koubentes tou kafene” and a minor nuisance every now and then but not more than that.
The heated discussions will continue to be whether it was handball or not, whether the goal was offside or not and whether or not APOEL is the perfect advert of the improvement of football in Cyprus.
The possibility that organised crime is a part of Cypriot football is a non-event for the fans, the “investigative journalists” and the authorities.