“We’re in the midst of a massive storm,” Justice Minister Giorgos Savvides said on Tuesday, referring to the wave of football corruption allegations that has been sweeping over Cyprus recently.
The most recent jab came on Monday, when a report published in the Spanish news outfit El Confidencial, which said that Cyprus law enforcement officials received a specific message from Spanish authorities on 12 March 2019, which included references of probable cause regarding at least one specific player and other individuals in the world of sports, who they suspected of fixing First Division matches in the Cypriot championship.
The report also referred to four match fixtures that took place between 2017 and 2018, which it said were connected with a Spanish match-fixing, naming the Cyprus link as former AEK player Jorge Larena.
“As soon as I was informed of the report, I immediately contacted the chief of police,” Savvides said. He demanded an immediate meeting on Tuesday with police leadership and those leading any match-fixing investigations, so that he can be fully briefed on the matter and ways forward.
Savvides clarified that he was not previously aware of the allegations made by the Spanish report.
Apoel, which was linked by the report to the Spanish match-fixing ring, dismissed the allegation as a slanderous lie, while AEK also denied having any knowledge of its player’s involvement in football corruption.
On its part, the Cyprus Football Association also denied having received any information nor red noticeds from UEFA regarding the four First Division matches mentioned in the report.
One of Cyprus’ most popular clubs, Omonoia, which came out recently claiming that it had evidence of match fixing but had initially refused to show its cards, said on Tuesday that in view of recent developments, it will be handing over the evidence in its possession.
Though match-fixing has been a persistent headache that Cyprus authorities have not yet been able to prove, the matter recently re-emerged after UEFA sent several notices suggesting foul play. The notices showed suspicious betting activity, conducted mostly in Asian markets.
Last week, two men, 39-year-old Ayia Napa FC chairman Dimitris Masias, a former football referee, and a 33-year-old current referee Andreas Constantinou, were remanded for eight days after witnesses had come forward with match fixing allegations after a recent game between second division Ayia Napa – Othellos Athienou.