President Nikos Christodoulides has condemned recent violence at a Nicosia basketball game, suggesting fans could be banned from all sporting fixtures.
He said the government is determined to stamp out hooliganism by considering banning fans from attending games.
“Imagine if there were victims at the game.
“There were parents who went to the game with their children. Are these the kind of stadiums we want?
“Either these people will comply, or all the matches will be played without spectators. Things are that simple,” said Christodoulides.
Hooligans smashed Eleftheria indoor stadium and the nearby offices of the Cyprus Public transport Company.
President Christodoulides said these kinds of incidents are unacceptable and that the issue would be tabled at Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.
“I have seen the reports of the Justice Minister and the Chief of Police, and I have asked that the matter be included in the agenda of the Cabinet.
“You should expect very specific announcements. Such phenomena do not honour anyone and cannot be tolerated,” he added.
Asked if citizens should feel confident going to a stadium with their children, the President said, “quite frankly, no.
“I’m not going to pretend everything’s okay after what we saw yesterday,” said the President.
Justice Minister Anna Prokopiou held an urgent meeting with the leadership of the police on Monday to review the latest episode of sports violence at Sunday’s Apollon-Anorthosis basketball Cyprus Cup semi-final.
Hooligans went on the rampage, causing thousands of euros in damage to the Eleftheria-Tassos Papadopoulos stadium in Nicosia while setting fire to the bus company, destroying it entirely.
Five police patrol vehicles were destroyed, while riot gear items, including tear gas, were stolen.
There were 86 police officers deployed for the match, according to officials.
According to the police, two fans were arrested for involvement in the troubles at the game, with more arrests expected within the next days.
A police officer was also suspended after being found to have been onboard one of the buses carrying Apollon fans, with reports suggesting he was unwilling to cooperate with investigators.
He is reported to have been a member of former President Nicos Anastasiades’ police detail and currently serving in the guard of another cabinet member.
Police sources say that officers had found anti-riot gear and smoke agents stolen from the police patrol cars on the bus carrying Apollon fans.
As a result of the riot, three prefabricated buildings of the CPT bus company were torched due to a fire that started after Molotov cocktails were thrown.
Hooligans attacked police officers with flares, Molotov cocktails, stones, and other objects, injuring four police officers.
Meanwhile, the independent police officers’ union ASDYK argued that some police officers are reluctant to take direct action during riots and violence as they feel that legislation does not protect them.
Nikos Loizides of the police union Equality said the problem of violence at sports stadiums could not be resolved unless officers are given legal backing.
He said the basketball game took place at a stadium that does not have closed-circuit monitoring.
Loizides argued that teams are reluctant to cooperate with the police to clamp down on hooliganism.