Cyprus’ top sports official on Thursday urged lawmakers to pass legislation enabling authorities to wiretap suspects’ telephones and access bank accounts in the fight against match-fixing.
Cleanthis Georgiades, president of Cyprus Sports Organization, said that those involved in match-fixing are “extremely dangerous” people, with huge financial interests at stake.
Earlier this week, the Cyprus Football Association vowed to impose severe penalties on clubs suspected of match-fixing after UEFA ranked the country’s championship to be among the worst offenders in Europe.
UEFA suspects six first-division matches and a domestic cup match may have been fixed since September, said Marios Lefkaritis, a vice president at UEFA and honorary president of the Cyprus Football Association..
The Cyprus FA has received files on 75 matches suspected of being fixed since 2011, Lefkaritis said.
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Georgiades said the situation was out of control.
“If authorities are going to stamp this out, legislation must be passed that unties their hands because it’s wiretapping that helps crack such cases,” he told The Associated Press.
Cyprus Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said legislation is expected to go to parliament for a vote in January,
Meanwhile, police said a pre-dawn bomb blast on Thursday damaged the entrance of the Limassol offices of an insurance company headed by Cyprus FA chief Costakis Koutsokoumnis.
Police spokesman Andreas Angelides said it was too early to definitely link the attack to the issue of match-fixing.
Koutsokoumnis appeared to allude to the bomb attack in a written message on his personal Facebook page, saying, “When you make reforms, you occasionally have to pay the price.”