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25 June, 2024
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Cyprus football's new horizon with privately owned stadiums

Tackling corruption and building trust: Cyprus football's path forward

By Panikos Constantinou

The era we find ourselves in appears to signify the beginning of significant change in the professional league, reminiscent of historical shifts that brought about transformations in various spheres. Just as ancient philosophical ideologies challenged established norms and paved the way for democracy, or as scientific advancements dismantled traditional power structures, leading to the Enlightenment era, football in Cyprus finds itself at a crucial juncture.

Many contend that we are witnessing the twilight of Western civilization as we know it, largely due to the dominance of Protestantism, particularly by Anglo-American powers, which prioritize individual economic agency. This emphasis on individualism has blurred the lines between personal freedom and recklessness, initiative and self-interest, and legitimate profit and speculative gain. Consequently, there is a growing call for a new social contract based on universal values rather than individual pursuits.

To understand the current state of football in Cyprus and the potential for a fairer future, it is essential to trace its evolution through four distinct phases. Since 1954, our football landscape has undergone significant changes, transitioning from its amateur origins to a semi-professional era in the 1990s, marked by the introduction of contractual freedom for players and increased financial stability through television revenues. The subsequent phase, starting around the mid-2000s, saw Cyprus fully integrated into the European Union, accompanied by a surge in foreign players and the adoption of playoff formats in league competitions.

Now, we find ourselves on the cusp of a potential fourth phase, characterized by technological advancements such as VAR and goal-line technology, along with the emergence of privately owned stadiums. However, for these changes to be sustainable, a cultural shift within the football community is imperative, prioritizing fan engagement and values such as respect and fairness over financial gains.

The construction of privately owned stadiums represents a significant investment, particularly in an environment marred by financial instability, corruption allegations, and a lack of trust in sports governance. Yet, alongside infrastructure development, there must be concerted efforts to address systemic issues such as impartial arbitration, financial transparency, and the eradication of match-fixing.

Moreover, to ensure the viability of these stadiums, clubs must actively engage with their fan bases, fostering a sense of ownership and community involvement. Collaboration among teams is essential, transcending individual interests for the collective betterment of the sport. This entails structural reforms, enhanced judicial mechanisms, and a commitment to inclusivity and integrity.

Ultimately, the future of Cypriot football hinges on the collective actions of stakeholders, including clubs, governing bodies, and the government. It is a pivotal moment that demands decisive measures to steer the sport towards a more sustainable and equitable path, rooted in principles of fairness, accountability, and respect. Only through concerted efforts can we usher in a new era of football that reflects the values and aspirations of the broader community.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

Cyprus  |  stadiums  |  sport  |  football

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