Blame game over rampant football hooliganism

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Authorities failed to act on reports that fans were preparing for trouble at the Limassol derby between AEL and Apollon that was called off after violence broke out shortly before kick-off.

All parties involved failed to take sufficient measures at the Tsirio stadium, ignoring social media posts by fans revealing that they were preparing to cause damage.

On Saturday, rival fans set fires and hurled chunks of concrete and plastic seats while fighting continued outside the stadium as hooligans damaged shops and cars.

Images of flares and Molotov cocktails being hurled into the air made the rounds on social media over the weekend.

As it emerged on Wednesday, the owners and operators of Limassol’s Tsirio, the Athletic Club Olympia (GSO), had warned authorities that fans were planning to “burn down the stadium” beforehand.

According to Phileleftheros daily, GSO officials had sent letters to the police, the Cyprus Sports Association (KOA) and the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) warning them of trouble to come.

As reported, the police replied to GSO, recommending that they increase the number of stewards, with the stadium replying that they could not do so.

In its letter on 1 December, published by Phileleftheros, the GSO noted that social media posts by fans of the two teams revealed they were gearing up to “burn the Tsirio stadium”.

This followed similar violence at the stadium during Apollon- APOEL and AEL- Anorthosis games.

Police spokesperson Christos Andreou told Phileleftheros that police increased the number of officers at the game and the stadium was responsible for providing more stewards.

GSO said they had 107 stewards working at the game, and 180 police officers were sent to the Limassol stadium on the day.

Andreou said that the CFA had ignored police advice to ban away fans belonging to topflight teams from games.

“Since 1 November, we have sent three letters urging the football authority to ban the movement of fans belonging to certain teams. However, the CFA has failed to take action”.

In comments to Sport FM, GSO president Kyriacos Tsolakis said: “If you had been there, you would have seen them (the hooligans) breaking chunks of the cement stands and hurling them at players on the field.

“I cannot imagine what they were trying to achieve with these actions”.

The Apollon v AEL fixture was to be the last game to be played at the Tsirio, as the city’s three big clubs are moving to the new AlphaMega Arena, inaugurated earlier this month.