Cyprus, UEFA agree to work closely on fighting match-fixing

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cypriot authorities and UEFA officials have agreed to forge closer links in order to strengthen the fight against possible match-fixing, the country’s justice minister said on Tuesday.

Minister George Savvides said UEFA officials and Cypriot law enforcement agreed to establish “direct lines of communication” in order to speed up the exchange of information that could help in unraveling suspected match-fixing.

A delegation from UEFA met with Savvides, senior police officers and officials from the country’s soccer federation following the minister’s invitation to the European soccer body to assist in an ongoing probe into match-fixing allegations.

“I hope this meeting marks the start of improved cooperation so we can lead soccer where we want to, far from decay, illegal betting activity and corruption,” said Savvides.

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Police are investigating four second-division matches and a pair of cup games in Cyprus that UEFA said displayed suspicious betting activity.

UEFA will also provide additional training to Cypriot police officers. Savvides repeated an appeal to anyone with information on fixed matches to step forward.

“Whoever loves soccer, it’s not enough to say they have information,” Savvides said. “”They have to provide it to police.”

On Monday, the president of top-flight team Omonia Nicosia, Stavros Papastavrou, decried what he called “rot and corruption” in Cypriot soccer, claiming he’s been approached with offers to “buy off” a match, referees and players.

Papastavrou refrained from identifying who approached him, but said “they have names and we know where they’re from.” He said their identities would be revealed to authorities after “convincing” assurances for the whistle-blower’s safety.

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