20.01.2020 19:01 h

Cyprus football to resume as referees end strike

Professional football matches will resume in Cyprus after referees ended a strike over a bomb attack against one of their members, authorities said Monday.

All games were postponed across all divisions at the weekend, following a bomb attack on a referee's car in the southern coastal city of Larnaca.

Referees ended their walkout after reassurances from the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) and Justice Minister George Savvides, during a meeting on Monday, that extra measures will be taken to protect them.

The bomb explosion on Friday damaged a car belonging to 33-year-old Andreas Constantinou and came as Cyprus is probing match-fixing allegations.

A Justice Ministry official will act as a point of contact for referees and anyone who may have information on match-fixing, Savvides told reporters.

He said a citizens' hotline will be available for anyone who wants to blow the whistle on fixed games.

Police will also provide increased security at games for referees who may feel they are under threat.

Last week, European football governing body UEFA sent notifications regarding five sets of suspicious betting trends in Cypriot football.

Chief of police Kypros Michaelides said an investigation into the notifications sent by UEFA is gathering pace.

Local media reported that UEFA has sent the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) a total of 84 notifications regarding match-fixing since 2011 with zero convictions.

Earlier this month, top-flight club Omonia Nicosia called on the European and world football governing bodies UEFA and FIFA to intervene against corruption in the local game.

Omonia wants UEFA and FIFA to investigate the matter and in the meantime suspend Cypriot teams from all international competition.

Omonia said in a statement it had "collected enough evidence over the years to persuade UEFA and FIFA to open a case about football in Cyprus".

Savvides urged clubs to come forward with their evidence to "end the silence" on match-fixing.

In the last five years, referees have staged three strikes following attacks on their members.

CFA boss George Koumas said he hoped that with government assistance "the championship will resume without any notifications of fixed games and without violence".

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