5th March 2020

Football corruption allegations continue to centre on Cyprus

A joint investigation by Europol, Spain’s Guardia Civil and the Spanish tax agency has uncovered that football agents were organising fictitious transfers of players through a Cypriot club in order to launder money and evade taxes. Spanish authorities have charged Abdilgafar Fali Ramadani, who operates Lian Sports, and his associates with money laundering offences, reports The Black Sea, which uncovered the operation as part of the Football Leaks project. 

It is understood that Apollon Limassol operated as a ‘Bridge Club’. The Football Leaks project identified over seven players who passed through the Cypriot club without playing for the team. Such a practice usually involves artificially inflating the value of a player by engineering a transfer involving three clubs, allowing all three to take a share of the profit on the sale of the player, as well as on any ‘training compensation’ payable under Article 20 of FIFA’s Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players. Article 5bis of the Regulations, added to the March 2020 edition, specifically prohibits Bridge Transfers.

Spanish investigators are also investigating Cypriot football’s links to match-fixing, reports El Confidencial. The newspaper reports that wiretapping has revealed that match-fixers are receiving information from Jorge Larena, a Spanish player who joined AEK Larnaca in the summer of 2015.

In January, football matches were temporarily suspended following a car bomb attack on a referee. Cypriot police are investigating a new bomb attack on the offices of the Cyprus Times, reports the National Herald. The newspaper and its subsidiaries have covered the match-fixing allegations, although it is not known if this coverage is related to the bomb attack. The government announced new measures designed to tackle match-fixing earlier this week, reported the Cyprus Mail. 

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