NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — A second-division soccer team in Cyprus condemned a “dangerous and cowardly” bombing attack early Friday on the car of the team’s vice president.
Aris Limassol’s board of directors said in a statement that it hopes the attack isn’t connected to the recent upheaval within the sport following allegations of match-fixing and a brief referees’ walkout.
Cypriot police said the predawn detonation of a makeshift explosive device placed beneath the right rear tire of 53-year-old Yiannakis Panayi’s car caused extensive damage to the vehicle and shattered his home’s windows.
Aris currently leads the second division with nine wins, one draw and three losses.
The attack came a week after another bombing of a referee’s car prompted the country’s soccer federation to suspend matches for four days after referees staged a walkout. Matches resumed on Monday after referees received assurances from the justice minister and chief of police that authorities would take additional protective measures.
The walkout was preceded by match-fixing allegations regarding four second-division matches and a pair of cup matches on which UEFA said there was suspicious betting activity.
One of the suspicious second-division matches that took place earlier this month involved Aris Limassol.
In its ruling earlier this week on the matches under suspicion, the Cyprus soccer federation’s adjudicating committee cut all federation funding to five teams – Ermis Aradippou, Digenis Morphou, Onisilos Sotira, Othellos Athienou and P.O. Xylotymbou. Digenis was also docked three points and fined 5,000 euros, while Karmiotissa Polemidion was slapped with a 50,000 euro fine.
Justice Minister George Savvides announced the appointment of a senior police officer who will be the point man in collecting all information about match-fixing and possible threats against referees.
Savvides also announced the setting up of a whistleblower hotline for tip-offs on possible match-fixing.
Also on Friday, Cypriot lawmakers passed a law authorizing police to tap telephones in investigations involving serious crime and terrorism.
Savvides had pleaded with lawmakers to pass the law, which he said would help law enforcement authorities unravel match-fixing investigations.
Meanwhile, a three-person team from UEFA is expected to arrive in Cyprus on Monday on the invitation of the soccer federation to help authorities in their match-fixing probe.
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