Football hooliganism erupted again this week, causing €25,000 worth of damages to Limassol’s newly inaugurated AlphaMega Stadium, home to three top-flight teams.
Violence broke out at halftime of the local derby between AEL and Apollon for the Cup on Wednesday, when rival fans unhinged plastic seats of the north and east stands during halftime and threw them at each other.
They caused damage to the stands, tearing away some 200 seats and smashing ceramics in the toilets.
Wednesday’s Limassol derby was the first at the new stadium, built with state funding.
The incident unravelled after the end of the first half when initially a firecracker was thrown by Apollon fans to the AEL stand, causing an angry response.
Some Apollon fans started throwing seats at AEL fans, who responded similarly.
The fighting lasted for about five minutes and ended with the intervention of anti-riot police officers.
Talking to CyBC radio, police spokesperson Christos Andreou said a task force had been set up to go through the stadium’s CCTV footage to identify the hooligans and bring them to justice.
Andreou said that some 130 stewards and 300 police officers were tasked with keeping the peace at the game, while an anti-riot water cannon vehicle was also commissioned for the game.
He said fans were thoroughly checked for dangerous items upon entering the stadium.
It was not the only incident of football hooliganism this week; police arrested a 22-year-old AEK Larnaca fan for slinging objects from the stand to the opposing Nea Salamina fans at a Cup game.
Authorities have come under fire over the failure to control a recent outburst of hooliganism on the grounds.
The fans of the two Limassol teams, AEL and Apollon, had clashed just a month earlier at their teams’ last standoff at their previous home stadium, the Tsirio.
Authorities had then failed to act on reports that fans were preparing for trouble at the Limassol derby.
The game had been 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.
In that incident, rival fans set fires and hurled chunks of concrete and plastic seats while fighting continued outside the stadium as hooligans damaged shops and cars.
Hooliganism was supposed to be contained by the ‘fan card’, which was to help monitor attendance at stadiums and identify troublemakers.
However, the latest incidents are reminiscent of many that have scarred Cypriot football for decades and kept families from going to matches.