The allegations of corruption in Cyprus football surface every once in a while, triggering a surge of critical articles in the media and indignant comments by politicians. Nothing is ever done and once the fuss dies down the allegations are forgotten – until new ones appear further down the line.
The latest revelations were made at a House ethics committee meeting, held earlier in the week to discuss the claim that, while president, Nicos Anastasiades had called the chairman of the sports ethics committee, Andreas Papacharalambous to tell him not to investigate a friendly match that was flagged for suspicious betting activity. Anastasiades has dismissed the claim as a malicious falsehood, denying he had ever made such a request, while Papacharalambous insisted he had.
At the meeting, revelations were made by a former member of the sports ethics committee, lawyer Haris Savvides, that highlighted the scale of the problem, which seems to have been swept under the carpet by the Cyprus Football Association (Kop). While he was serving on the committee, Savvides said that 16 files of increased betting activity had been sent to it, 11 relating to Karmiotissa matches and five to Ermis matches.
The betting on Karmiotissa’s friendly match against Apollonas, which Anastasiades allegedly asked not to be investigated, was for three goals to be scored in the second half and they were. Even more incredible was Karmiotissa’s friendly against Ael, for which there was heavy betting on nine goals being scored and betting shops in Asia stopped taking bets. Nine goals were indeed scored, the ninth an own goal by the goalkeeper in injury time! Savvides also pointed out that Karmiotissa should have been struck off by Kop, given that it was involved in 11 matches flagged for suspicious betting activity.
Kop had done nothing about the ‘red’ notices it was sent, while on Thursday it issued a statement saying, “we strongly reject the offensive references and allegations directed at both us and Uefa.” Yet, according to Kop’s strict regulations, a club that featured in 11 red notices for suspicious betting activity in the space of 18 months should have been struck off. Why had this not happened? Why had Kop not investigated any of the matches flagged, if only to prove that no match fixing was taking place?
The problem is that Kop is run by individuals voted in by the football clubs so instead of supervising the clubs’ actions it seems to protect them. The sports ethics committee, meanwhile, has announced it will undertake its own investigation of the match-fixing allegations. Whether it will ever be completed and light shed on the match-fixing allegations remains to be seen.