NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — In a renewed bid to clamp down on violence at soccer games, police in Cyprus said Monday they will step up security screening of fans at stadium entrances, shutter team supporter clubs if necessary and call for matches to either be canceled or halted if safety is compromised.
The announcement of the measures comes just three days after the country’s soccer association banned away fans from all top-flight matches for the remainder of the season following a spate of violent incidents.
Police spokesman Christos Andreou said police will also be empowered to determine fan arrival times in order to give officers ample time to carry out the tougher security screening.
Andreou also referred to an upcoming bill that would mandate the installation of closed circuit TV cameras in all stadiums where top-tier matches are held and give police the authority to carry out drug and alcohol tests prior to matches and prohibit entry to fans found to be under the influence.
The bill also foresees raising the time — up to a decade — that a court can ban fans found guilty of violence-related offenses.
The anti-sports violence steps are part of a wider package of measures aimed at combating organized crime.
Justice Minister Marios Hartsiotis said the measures in their totality are hardly new but the point is to more effectively implement them with immediate effect.
Violence at soccer matches has triggered players’ union complaints that its members felt their personal safety to be increasingly under risk on and off the field.
Union chief Spyros Neophytides had warned of a possible players’ walkout if no measures are taken.
On Tuesday, a cup match between league leader APOEL Nicosia and Nea Salamina was cut short early in the second half after a firecracker struck a Nea Salamina player
AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer