Referees chairman detained in Cyprus

Police have detained Referees Association Chairman Michalis Argyrou and former referee Michalis Spyrou over their alleged involvement in the ongoing investigation into match-fixing. A Cyprus court has ordered Michalis Argyrou (photo) to remain in police custody for three days because of allegations he tried to influence the outcome of a first-division match nearly three years ago. Michalis Spyrou was detained for four days on suspicion that he tried to influence the outcome of lower-league matches as well as under-21 games four years ago.
The arrests were prompted by the allegations of referee Marios Panagi, who held a press conference last month in which he essentially slammed the hierarchy of the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) and the Referees Association of being in cahoots with several clubs in the fixing of certain football matches. Some of Panagi’s allegations, in which he also fingered CFA boss Costakis Koutsokoumnis and, more vehemently, First Deputy Chairman George Koumas, concerned the fixing of specific games to ensure some teams avoided relegation in the previous years. The CFA’s outgoing Referees Committee Head Hans Reijgwart, who Panagi also accused of turning a blind eye to the match fixing, also gave a statement to police this week. With regards to Argyrou, a witness came forward to back the claim of Panagi that he attempted to influence the referee in fixing the outcome of the Enosis Neon Paralimniou-Aris Limassol game back in 2012 – a game that Paralimni went on to win. During Thursday’s remand hearing, the court had heard how 56-year-old Spyrou had attempted to put pressure on another referee to alter the outcome of four games between 2010 and 2011 – two lower league games and two under-21 games. During those years, Spyrou had served as a member of the CFA’s Referees Committee and was chief of refereeing matters for Limassol and Paphos. The referee, in his statement to police, said that Spyrou had telephoned him and asked him to help “certain clubs that had right-wing affiliations”. The games in question, according to investigators, are the third division game between Spartakos and Digenis Oroklini, the fourth division game between KE Trachoni and Ayia Marina Chrysochous, as well as the under-21 games Aris Limassol-Omonia and Omonia-Paphos. He is under investigation for charges relating to corruption, bribery, abuse of power and dereliction of duty. Panagi, who was this week stripped of his referee status by the CFA for a series of alleged “infringements”, reportedly recorded many conversations he had with high-ranking football officials but are said to be not admissible in court and were not accepted by the Legal Services. Police investigations are far from cracking the alleged corruption ring described by Panagi but prosecutors are hopeful that the recent arrests could open up a can of worms and break the silence.

Source: InCyprus News