There were new developments on Wednesday in the world of Cypriot football, with two suspects remanded in custody over suspicions of rigging the Beautiful Game.
On Wednesday morning, Larnaca district judge ordered two suspects remanded in custody for eight days in connection with a police investigation into football match fixing in the second division.
The two suspects, 39-year-old Ayia Napa FC chairman Dimitris Masias, a former football referee, and a 33-year-old current referee Andreas Constantinou, were arrested Tuesday evening with police saying witnesses had come forward with match fixing allegations after a recent game.
Last month, a makeshift explosive device was placed under the hood of a car belonging to Constaninou, just two days after UEFA officials notified the Cyprus Football Association of possible match-fixing in five suspected matches.
Although earlier reports said recent information from UEFA included a game refereed by Constantinou in January, police spokesperson Christos Andreou had clarified the arrests were based on new information about a very recent match.
Forensic testing was scheduled to take place on confiscated mobile phones, while more depositions were expected from multiple potential witnesses
During the remand hearing, police prosecutors said an ongoing investigation was unfolding with new evidence and witnesses about a possible match fixing incident regarding the latest Ayia Napa – Othellos Athienou game.
According to the allegations, Masias approached a player of an opposite team and offered €10,000 to fix the game for Ayia Napa. The player allegedly refused and said “may the best win” with Masias then replying, according to a witness, that he would take it up with the referee.
During the match in question, refereed by Constantinou, three Othellos players were expelled from the game starting at the 80th minute, with Ayia Napa finally scoring a 96th minute penalty and winning 1-0.
Prosecutors said suspicions were raised after the game had ended, with Masias’ attorney asking why the allegations were made after the game and not before, when the alleged match fixing effort took place.
Constantinou’s attorney also accused police of rushing to detain her client based on prejudice and “because some didn’t like the results of the match.”
Police prosecutors responded saying they acted on probable cause.
The attorney was also heard scorning police investigators for leaking the name of her client to the media, with the judge warning the lawyer that she was out of order.
But the lawyer proceeded with mentioning the penalty in question, saying the referee was simply doing his job, with the female judge once again warning the attorney that her line of questioning had nothing to do with the remand hearing.
Forensic testing was expected to take place on the confiscated mobile phones of the two suspects, while more depositions were expected from multiple potential witnesses.
Both Masias and Constantinou refused to make comments during their arrests. They are facing multiple charges including conspiracy to commit a felony, fraud conspiracy, and various sports-related offences.