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Courts get tough on football hooligans

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Cyprus courts are getting tougher on football violence, as another young fan from Limassol was handed a five-month sentence, the third person in as many weeks jailed for hooliganism at stadiums.

A 23-year-old man was jailed for five months by the Nicosia district court after being found guilty of violent conduct during a football match between Nicosia rivals Omonia FC and APOEL FC at the GSP Stadium on February 15.

The accused was arrested for throwing dangerous objects onto the pitch, including a lighter aimed at the referee and assaulting other fans.

In addition to the imprisonment, the court issued an order preventing him from attending all sporting events in Cyprus for six months, which comes into effect upon his release from prison.

In its ruling, the court said it imposed the jail term as it saw the need to issue a deteriorating sentence as hooliganism incidents at Cyprus stadia have become more frequent.

At the end of May, two young men, aged 21 and 22, also received five-month prison sentences for football hooliganism.

The Nicosia district court had handed down the sentences linked to violent incidents at the APOEL v Apollon Limassol match on April 10, again at the GSP Stadium.

The two men were found guilty on charges of possessing explosives (five months) and possession of a dangerous weapon near a sports venue (another five months); sentences are concurrent.

In March, violence at a basketball game between Apollon and Anorthosis saw hooligans go on the rampage, causing thousands of euros in damage to the Eleftheria-Tassos Papadopoulos stadium in Nicosia.

Officers forced troublemakers to leave the stadium, but they continued causing damage outside when setting fire to the bus station, destroying it entirely.

Five police patrol vehicles were destroyed, while riot gear items, including tear gas, were stolen.