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Cyprus Rejects Hosting Greek Football Cup Final

GPS Stadium
The GPS Stadium is the largest such venue in Cyprus; if the the Greek football cup final did take place on the island, it would likely be here. Credit: George M. Groutas / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

On Wednesday, Greece’s football authority was denied its request to hold the cup final on the island of Cyprus. The decision was made after reports surfaced in the Greek media claiming that the event was already confirmed. However, Cypriot authorities have said that they never received any such request.

The Cyprus police announced that they rejected the Greek request to hold the football match on the island, citing concerns over public safety. They stated that they made this decision after requesting official data and information from the Greek police about the potential danger posed by the match.

The issue was raised amid concerns in Cyprus of mounting violence occurring during sports matches.

Greece or Cyprus? Confusion over the football game’s location

Earlier this week, there was confusion over where the Greek football cup final would take place, as reports suggested it would be held in Cyprus.

This comes after a series of violent incidents have plagued sporting events on the island, leading to arrests and police investigations.

However, both Cypriot Justice Minister Anna Procopiou and police spokesman Christos Andreou denied any knowledge that a formal request had been made to host the game in Cyprus. Andreou stated that they only found out about it through the press.

“We cannot make statements over something that has not been formally requested of us. If a request is made, we can then evaluate it,” Procopiou told the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation.

For now, it seems extremely unlikely that Cyprus will host the Greek football cup final on the island. A statement by the Cypriot police on the issue is difficult to interpret as anything other than a firm rejection.

“Regarding the above issue, the Cyprus Police reports that it cannot respond positively to the request of the Hellenic Football Federation to hold the Greek Cup Final in Cyprus. The issue has occupied the relevant Police Departments since the first moment, when the matter saw the light of day,” read the statement.

“For this purpose, the Greek Police officially requested data and information regarding the dangers posed by the football match in question. The information received is such as to compel the Police not to advocate the holding of the match in question in Cyprus,” the statement continued.

Local Authorities Struggling to Control Sports-Related Violence

The past few weeks have seen numerous arrests in Cyprus after fans rioted during a basketball match and set fire to offices and a bus stop. A report prepared by the police for the justice minister reportedly placed most of the blame for the violence on three police officers.

The arrests were made in relation to a riot which took place on March 26 during the Anorthosis-Apollon basketball semi-finals at the Tassos Papadopoulos Eleftheria Stadium in Nicosia.

Not unlike Cyprus, Greece has had also suffered from spate of sport-related violence, particularly during some football matches.

Last year, an escalation in clashes between football hooligans of rival teams prompted the Greek Supreme Court to put out a circular asking for swift trials and stiffer penalties on football hooligans who commit sports-related crimes.

Early last year, the murder of Alkis Kampanos, a 19-year-old football fan, in Greece’s second-largest city, Thessaloniki, caused widespread shock and indignation. The police responded by raiding the homes of suspected football hooligans.

A 23-year-old man –a PAOK F.C Thessaloniki hooligan– was later arrested and charged with murder as well as attempted murder.

The tragic murder highlighted the pervasive issue of football and sports-related violence in Greece, which also seems to cause problems in Cyprus.

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