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Counting the cost of football violence

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As authorities count the cost of damage caused to Tsirion stadium after fan violence, policing football matches has come under the spotlight with a suggestion that away supporters should be banned.

After clashes between Apollon and APOEL fans at the weekend, the issue of tackling worsening football hooliganism has risen with pressure on authorities to take drastic action.

The Tsirion stadium is counting the damage caused during clashes between Apollon and APOEL fans last Sunday.

Stadium official Giorgos Zachariades told CyBC radio Tuesday that the two teams will be asked to pay for the damages.

After an initial check, the rioters smashed toilets, removed water pipes, destroyed seats, and threw flares that set fire where the track and field athletes train and compete.

Zachariades claimed that checks at the stadium entrances are thorough, and there is no way that flares, stones, and Molotov cocktails passed through the controlled points.

He said it was up to others to discover how dangerous objects got inside the stadium.

Three individuals were arrested after opposing groups totalling about 30 people, invaded the pitch during the game and hurled rocks and flares at each other.

Police said the individuals in custody, aged 17, 23, and 25, are being investigated on charges of unlawful entry into a sports facility, assault, illegal assembly, and attacking a police officer.

The 25-year-old invader was treated at a private clinic for a broken nose.

The clash happened approximately 20 minutes into Sunday’s match between Apollon Limassol and visiting APOEL Nicosia.

Riot police, with the help of Tsirion stadium security officials, intervened to break up the fighting.

Police also used a water cannon and tear gas to disperse Apollon fans who threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at officers outside the stadium following the match. APOEL won 1–0 after being awarded a penalty in injury time.

Before the game, a small group of Apollon fans attacked a police officer directing traffic outside the stadium.

Police earlier this month had warned clubs of increasing violent incidents inside and outside the stadiums during both league and European matches that are putting spectators and others at risk.

Deputy Police Chief Ioannis Georgiou said police would be forced to ban visiting team fans from travelling to away games if the situation doesn’t improve and urged club owners to step up security.