The football associations of Cyprus and Greece are close to concluding an agreement whereby Greek officials will take charge of top games on the island.
With five rounds to go until the Cypriot season enters its final play-off phase, the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) is nearing its goal of bringing in referees from foreign associations for potentially contentious matches. Disputes over officials, on and off the pitch, have cast a cloud over Cypriot football and the CFA is seeking assistance from abroad to resolve the problem.
The leading four sides after 26 rounds will take their points totals into a play-off stage – unbeaten Anorthosis Famagusta FC are currently five points clear of APOEL FC at the top, with AC Omonia and APOP/Kinyras Peyias FC in third and fourth places respectively. It seems likely that some of these teams' play-off games will be overseen by Greek officials.
In an official response to the CFA's request for refereeing assistance, Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) president Vassilis Gagatsis wrote: "It is a great pleasure to inform you that the EPO board has unanimously agreed to accept the CFA request for two EPO referees to supervise the CFA play-offs as well as the offer of one or two referees from Cyprus taking part in the Hellenic championship."
'Wait and see'
EPO refereeing committee chief Georgios Psichomanis will now sort out the details of the Greek commitment, while CFA vice-chairman Haris Loizides told uefa.com he is thrilled with the arrangement, saying: "It was something we had been looking at for some time and the EPO was the most obvious federation to approach first. With regards to how successful this exchange will be, like most things in football, we have to wait and see."
The clubs have yet to rubber-stamp the move, although Loizides believes the response will be favourable. He said: "We are just waiting for approval from the clubs because they need to have the final word before we can push on with the exchange. I believe this is not only a good way to enhance the level of refereeing in Cyprus but also to solve the problem of prejudice."