Football fixtures called off as refs strike over bomb attack

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The Cyprus Football Association on Friday decided to indefinitely call-off all fixtures after referees decided to strike in response to a bomb attack against one of their members.

The CFA said in a statement that all games were postponed across all divisions, condemning the bombing in Larnaca as “an act of terror”.

It said the deed was a blow to Cypriot football as a whole and created a climate of fear among referees.

A bomb explosion in Larnaca damaged a car belonging to 33-year-old referee Andreas Constantinou.

In an announcement, the Cyprus Referees Association said it stood by their man and his family while calling on officials and the media to refrain from pouring oil on the fire with over critical comments about referees.

The referees also, indirectly, took a pot shot at President Nicos Anastasiades when saying “statements at the awards ceremony for the top athletes, undermine the integrity of the referees and even give cover to the real culprits”.

Talking at the award ceremony on Thursday night Anastasiades said some referees need to be shown a “red card”.

“There are honourable referees, but there are some who are unfortunately in collaboration with corrupt stakeholders in Cyprus football, pushing international organisations to send in notifications over match-fixing.”

On Monday, European football governing body UEFA sent five notifications of suspicious betting activity in Cyprus league and cup games. These allegations are under police investigation.

UEFA have sent the Cyprus Football Association a total of 84 notifications regarding match-fixing since 2011.

All cases were forwarded to the police who until now, have not brought anyone before a court of law in connection with match-fixing.

Earlier this month, Omonia Nicosia has called on the European and world football governing bodies UEFA and FIFA to intervene against corruption in the local game.

Omonia wants UEFA and FIFA to investigate the matter and in the meanwhile suspend Cypriot teams from all international competition.

Omonia FC said in a statement it has “collected enough evidence over the years to persuade UEFA and FIFA to open a case about football in Cyprus.”

Omonia’s call to UEFA and FIFA was followed by another topflight club, Limassol’s AEL.

Apollon Limassol has been calling for foreign referees to be brought in to officiate Cypriot first division fixtures as they claim to have lost points to bad refereeing.

This is not the first time Cyprus matches have been called off, in 2015 the CFA postponed all matches under its jurisdiction for one week after referees came out on strike following a bomb attack.