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Bombs, match-fixing and Cyprus own goals

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Surely, it’s time to survey the wreckage of what Cyprus has done to the beautiful game and ask whether there is any point in trying to pretend that professional football can survive on this island.

Against a backdrop of deep suspicion over match-fixing, bomb attacks against referees and a breakdown in trust between clubs and the FA – football is the prisoner of those appointed to protect it.

What is the vision for a fresh new start for Cypriot football where the game is cleaner than a maternity ward, more thrilling than a roller coaster ride?

This should be a game of inclusion and diversity where people come together to enjoy the national game in a friendly environment.

Instead, Cyprus football is toxic waste, a hazardous material that needs to be handled with care because it taints everyone who touches it.

Cypriot football is run by cronies, men of a different generation that lack the insight, progressive thinking, technology skills and the courage to take the game forward.

If we continue down this road of self-destruction and self-interest, then the game will be writing its own obituary.

Incompetence, lack of strong leadership has darkened the name of Cypriot football where only the naïve believe the authorities run a clean ship.

For the third time in six years, all football fixtures in Cyprus have been postponed in the wake of a bomb attack against a referee.

Such incidents are a direct result of the distrust people have in the outcome of matches.

It is one thing to argue that Cyprus has poor referees who make too many mistakes and another to say those bad decisions are the result of bribery.

Such beliefs in crooked outcomes have been allowed to fester for too long, either by an unwillingness to improve the standard of refereeing or a failure to root out the criminals.

As everybody is so sure, President Anastasiades for example, that some bent referees are deciding the outcome of matches on orders from the criminal underworld, then why is nothing done to rectify the matter.

Fans who follow Cyprus football seem convinced that it’s more rigged than an Iranian election. Apart from moaning and groaning, no concrete action is taken.

There is no sense in identifying a problem, only to stand on the sidelines and point to it like a mirage in the desert.

Taking Responsibility

Granted, its easier to blame referees for everything that goes wrong in a match but there is a disturbing trend in Cyprus where clubs and players don’t take responsibility for their actions.

Referees are human, they will make honest mistakes, that’s football, while teams should also look at their own performances and admit when they have had a stinker – it happens.

Cyprus football requires intensive rehabilitation, a change of mindset for the game to run efficiently, impartially and independent of the clubs.

The Cyprus FA has to make decisions for the good of the game, to ensure it thrives from the bottom up. It should not exist to pander to the wealthiest clubs.

In all fairness, Cypriot football has lost its way and needs to go on a long sabbatical to rediscover what makes it the greatest game on the planet.

Supporters understand the biggest clubs will always achieve more because they have the money and influence to sustain success.

What the authorities need to ensure is a level playing field on the pitch where there is no bias or prejudice. Everybody gets a fair crack of the whip without hidden agendas.

Cyprus is now making all the wrong international headlines after the CFA indefinitely called-off all fixtures after referees went on strike in response to a bomb attack against one of their members.

The CFA condemned the bombing in Larnaca as “an act of terrorism”.

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

The Cyprus Referees Association 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.

President Anastasiades suggesting some refs should be shown the red card didn’t help matters.

He has vowed to kick corruption out of football after European governing body UEFA recently reported five suspicious fixtures.

UEFA has sent the CFA a total of 84 notifications regarding match-fixing since 2011 but guess how many of these cases have ended up in court (a goalless draw).

So, words of defiance from the government and football officials ring hollow.

Under the spotlight, everyone is a crusader for the good of the game, Knights of the realm ready to defend football’s integrity.

These are the same glory hunters whose inaction is mired in a swamp of apathy, outside the town of complacency. They are killing the game we love.