Police are on high alert after narrowly preventing an attack on visiting Maccabi Tel Aviv fans by Cypriot hooligans on Tuesday night on Larnaca’s Phinikoudes seafront.
Videos of ‘Omonia 29 May’ hooligans chasing Maccabi fans down neighbouring alleys were posted on social media.
Maccabi Tel Aviv is in Cyprus for a game in the third preliminary round of the Europa Conference League against AEK Larnaca on Wednesday.
In comments to the Financial Mirror, Police spokesperson Christos Andreou said officers were tipped off that the Nicosia-based Omonia 29 May group were leaving their Larnaca fan club and heading towards Phinikoudes to clash with Maccabi fans.
Andreou said local police headquarters sent nine patrol cars with 18 officers to the coastal front, preventing confrontation between the two groups of supporters.
Local police were informed that Omonia 29 May fans were heading on foot to a pub in Phinikoudes, where most Maccabi fans had gathered for a pre-match celebration.
“At around midnight, officers spotted a group of fans of a specific team moving towards a pub in Phinikoudes, where Maccabi fans were located.
“When the group saw the officers, they started running away from the area,” said Andreou.
Police are investigating to identify instigators and participants in the incident while increasing patrols outside the hotel where the Israeli fans are staying.
Andreou said there were no injuries or damage recorded from the brief incident.
In light of the incident, police will step up security measures at the game between AEK Larnaca and Maccabi Tel Aviv.
The motive behind the incident is believed to be political, as the fans of the two teams are in opposing ideological spheres.
Fans of Maccabi Tel Aviv are known for their anti-immigrant and anti-LGTBQ stance, while Omonia 29 May fans are known for their leftist political views.
The incident came hours after an AEK Athens fan was stabbed to death by Dinamo Zagreb hooligans in Greece on Tuesday.
Dinamo Zagreb fans are known for their ultra-right views and slogans, while AEK fans lean towards more inclusive policies.
According to reports, the fans of the Croatian team were the instigators of the incident, attacking AEK fans indiscriminately.
As a result of the clash, Tuesday’s Champions League qualifying game between AEK Athens and Croatia’s Dinamo Zagreb was postponed.
Seven Greek police officers were suspended pending an internal investigation, while a senior public prosecutor launched an official inquiry into the deadly clashes.
— Hooligans.cz Official (@hooliganscz1999) August 9, 2023