Football chief faces conflict of interest charge

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Cyprus Football Association boss George Koumas has come under legal heat as an ethics probe finds evidence that he may have abused his position as chair of the CFA to his benefit.

Releasing a statement, the Committee of Ethics and Safeguarding in Sport (CESS) said it has received and reviewed an investigation report regarding the alleged conflicts of interest involving Koumas.

The CESS revealed that findings suggest a potential violation of the law.

Based on witness testimonies and evidence collected by a probe set up by the Committee, it concluded that there may indeed be a conflict of interest involving Koumas.

It preferred not to provide further details due to the constraints of the ongoing investigation but promised to do so at a later stage.

Following the findings of the probe and the verdict by CESS, Koumas could also be facing potential criminal charges.

Koumas is expected to be summoned for questioning by the police, and subsequently, the Attorney General will decide whether to proceed with a trial based on the evidence presented.

Any individual convicted under the conflict-of-interest law faces a prison sentence not exceeding three years, a fine not exceeding €75,000, or both.

Although not revealed by the Committee, the alleged of conflict-of-interest has to do with Kouma’s status as a senior executive of the CFA, in conjunction with his capacity as a businessman dealing in television rights, producing sports television products, and having an interest in an agency representing athletes.

According to local media reports, the CFA had been handing out money from television rights to teams as they saw fit, violating fair game regulations.

In a statement, Koumas’ lawyers, Chris Triantafyllides and Marios Orphanides, said they did not wish to comment on the Committee’s announcement.

“We limit ourselves to mentioning that during the investigation process, a number of violations have occurred regarding both the legal and constitutional rights of our client, as well as that a conclusion has been drawn up without taking our client’s position and other officials of the CFA”.

The latest development casts a shadow on the leadership of Cypriot football, which had been implicated in a match-fixing scandal.

Earlier in June, Koumas had to refute accusations by the head of the Committee, Charis Savvides, that the CFA withheld red notices for possibly fixed matches sent by the governing body of European Football, UEFA.

Savvides claimed that UEFA had flagged 11 matches involving Karmiotissa FC and five with Ermis Aradippou over 18 months, covering 2019 and the summer of 2020.

The 16 games had high betting traffic, especially from Asia.

Savvides argued that evidence pointed to a possible coverup, but the CFA did not take the designated measures to investigate the games.

Koumas argued the CFA turns over any red notice to the police, and the association has adopted tough regulations, including teams being scrapped from the registrar if found to be involved in fixed matches three times.