NICOSIA: Cypriot international referee Marios Panayi has set out accusations of widespread corruption and matchfixing without the island’s professional game.
Panayi, in a formal press conference, told local media that he had compiled a dossier of recorded conversations, documents and other evidence pointing blame at very senior officials in Cyprus Football Association.
He claimed, according to a report in the Cyprus Mail, that the CFA appointed referees willing to influence the outcome of certain games, in particular in relation to relegation.
CFA chairman is Kostakis Koutsokoumnis with powerful Giorgos Koumas as his deputy. Panayi claimed that the Dutch head of the Cyprus Refereeing Committee, Hans Reijgwart, merely took orders from above.
Panayi said it was no accident that he had not been appointed to any matches by Reijgwart since September.
His troubles began, he claimed, when he refused to officiate at a crucial relegation game in April 2012. Panayi did not identify the match but it is believed to have been a game on April 22 between Aris Limassol and Enosis Paralimni.
Aris lost and were relegated to the second division. Former club president Kyriakos Hadjikyriakos told the media at the time that his team had been “up against 13 players.”
The match in question was also flagged by European federation UEFA because of suspicious betting patterns. No further action was taken.
Panayi added: “[Ambitious referees] must play along with the wishes of those who have Cypriot football under their thumb.”
He called on leaders of the three major parliamentary parties, AKEL, DISY and DIKO to speak out about what they knew of the inner workings in the football federation and league.
AKEL responded by saying that leader Andros Kyprianou had never held any meetings with CFA board members regarding matchfixing. It called on the Attorney-general to investigate all Panayi’s allegations.
Panayi said he was willing to share his dossier with the office of Attorney-General Costas Clerides. He is also expected to make a formal statement to police.
Last June a betting industry watchdog, Federbet, claimed that Cyprus was top of its matchfixing suspicions table.
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