NICOSIA — A new group has emerged in Cyprus to claim responsibility for two of five bomb attacks targeting soccer referees in the past year, police said March 5.
Police spokesman Andreas Angelides told The Associated Press that investigators were examining the written proclamation signed by the Armed Gate Niners Urban Guerrillas to determine its credibility.
The name of the group refers to a gate at the capital’s GSP Stadium used by fans of a top Nicosia team, but Angelides said the group disavowed any affiliations.
The group claimed responsibility for last month’s bombing of a car belonging to the wife of a top-ranked referee, as well as a pre-dawn grenade attack against the Referees’ Association headquarters last October.
No one was injured in any of the five attacks and no one has been arrested, but police say they are investigating.
Angelides said the letter makes broad references to corruption within the sport and that the group has no intention to harm anyone. But is unclear why referees have been singled out for attacks.
In January, referees boycotted all league and cup games for a week after a midnight bomb attack at the home of a referee’s elderly mother.
The development comes amid allegations that the sport is riddled with match-fixing by referees, an operation designed to line the pockets of soccer officials and politicians.
The allegations by senior referee Marios Panayi outlined in an interview with the AP have shaken up the soccer community and upset referees.
The Cyprus Referees’ Association again urged Panayi to provide investigators with specific details and said that any association member proven to have been implicated in match-fixing “has no place in the referee family.”