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25 April, 2024
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Hooliganism in Cyprus: A plea for political action

Government's struggle to tackle sports-related issues

Yiannis Ioannou

Yiannis Ioannou

The recent incidents at ''Alphamega'' and the Apollon-AEL Cup match follow a familiar pattern, underscoring the government's struggle to tackle sports-related issues. The introduction of a new ministerial setup and measures to curb sports violence adds weight to the ongoing narrative of systemic failures.

Dealing with hooliganism in Cyprus isn't an abstract challenge but hinges on three crucial factors: political will, political will, and political will. This goes beyond simplistic solutions and intricate law enforcement strategies, involving foundational steps.

First and foremost, recognizing the interconnectedness of organized football in Cyprus, particularly with fanbases and political networks, is pivotal. Penalizing clubs and administrations for fan involvement in violence poses political risks, given their sway and economic influence.

Secondly, addressing the links between specific fan groups and organized crime is imperative. Understanding how drugs circulate through football ultras requires not just information but proactive policing efforts.

Severing political agendas from discussions on combating hooliganism would empower the state to effectively confront and reform organized sports. It demands political steadfastness and leadership to navigate associated political costs.

Apart from political will, a strategic methodology is crucial. Fundamental police work, from gathering information to operational execution, is necessary for both prevention and suppression. However, the approach must consider proportionality and political costs, ensuring effective law enforcement without compromising public support.

To underscore, combating hooliganism isn't akin to nuclear physics; it requires political leadership, transparency, a disregard for political costs, and a profound understanding of the realities of professional football in Cyprus. Without substantial changes, the risk of an innocent victim falling prey to violence remains imminent.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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