Sad state of football in Cyprus
 
Thinking about the World Cup, of course, also helps take my mind off the fact that Chelsea thrashed Manchester United to take the Premiership last week and also the fact that football in Cyprus is going from bad to worse.
 
True, my home club may, in a few days be celebrating the Championship, and I will be out driving and honking my horn, but watching the news reports of the events during and after the weekend’s game I was disappointed once again. Seats were torn out and set on fire and objects thrown at the players and the officials on the pitch and, outside the stadium, fans were throwing stones at each other, destroying property and setting fires. 
 
It seems that some fans had a feeling that their players had under-performed or that the opposition had over-performed, that the outcomes of the two big games should have been different. Everyone believes that is a lot of corruption in Cyprus football- the statements made by club officials over the course of a season seem to strengthen this idea; the cricket scores in the games of the title run-in often seem unnatural. Fans believe that everyone has his price; many expect their officials to bear this thought in mind.
 
All this is sad. The suspected corruption, the violence both on and off the pitch, the way that party politics keeps rearing its ugly head have dragged our football into the mud. The few fans that turn up at games seem bent on causing trouble.
 
The Championship this year has been exciting and it will go down to the last game of the season. A few teams have looked good, though there has been no runaway leader. I have seen some games where the football has been end to end, where the players have played like their lives as well as their wages depended on it, where goals have been scored that took my breath away. I have seen passionate managers jumping up and down in joy or agony, fans chanting in unison, players showing real skill. There is much that is good about our football.
 
But there is so much that is wrong. It is sad how people are turning away from football, how fathers are no longer taking their sons to the football grounds. The violence and the alleged corruption of Cypriot football, so long disregarded by the Cypriot FA, the way that party politics almost rules the game- a fact encouraged by our politicians, the way the club officials choose to speak of their ‘wonderful fans’ overlooking all the damage their fans cause as they rampage in and near the football grounds- all these things make me sad.
 
I want to feel safe at a football ground. I want to start going to games again. I want to take my nephew to an Apollon game and explain the offside rule to him, when I understand it myself and when the referees themselves understand it. I want to have more excitement at the players’ feet than in the stands.
 
After all, flair is so much better than flares, is it not?

 

 

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