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How many days did the previous abstention of the refs last and what happened?

Uncertainty prevails in Cypriot football after the decision of the Elite category referees to abstain from the matches, following the bomb attack against the family of referee Menelaos Antoniou.

Development which on the one hand caused the postponement of tonight’s (18/9) game between Nea Salamina and Ethnikos, which would have completed the 4th matchday, while on the other hand it called into question the conduct of the 5th matchday, which is set to be held on four days September 22-25 (Friday-Monday).

Based on the above, the big question of the sports fans is when will the referees be convinced to end the abstinence (after the usual assurances they will receive from the Authorities…) and if this will happen before the matches of the 5th matchday or if they will be postponed as well, a scenario which at the moment seems the most likely.

However, it is worth mentioning that the previous time our referees made a similar decision, their abstinence lasted only three days, but it was enough to cause significant rearrangements in the league schedule.

On January 17, 2020, Friday, a bomb attack took place against referee Andreas Konstantinou. Specifically, an explosive device was placed in his vehicle, which was parked in a covered garage at his home.

On the same day, at the request of Giorgos Koumas, there was a meeting of the KOP with the Minister of Justice and Public Order and the leadership of the Police, on whose agenda, in addition to the bombing, were also the collected reports that came for prearranged matches. A new meeting was set for Monday (20/1) at the Ministry of Justice.

In the meantime, the referees had already announced an indefinite absence, which resulted in the postponement of the matchday 17 matches, which were to be played that weekend.

Two days later, on Sunday (19/1/20), a meeting was held at the KOP offices between the federation and a delegation of the Referees Association, where according to a KOP announcement, “the two sides exchanged more general views on the data through the latest events and how to create safe conditions for the resumption of the championships in view of tomorrow’s meeting at the Ministry of Justice, in the presence of the KOP and the Association of Referees. During the meeting, the President of KOP Giorgos Koumas also informed the delegation about the content of the meeting that took place on Friday at the Ministry of Justice at the initiative of the Federation”.

The crucial day was Monday because of the meeting which had been set at the Ministry of Justice and through which the arbitrators were convinced to end the abstention. As the then minister Giorgos Savvidis stated after the meeting, “We assured them that we will be by their side for security. Some decisions were made, we passed them on to the leadership of the referees and this was also the core for the resumption of the championship. We decided as a point of reference both with referees and those with corruption issues, Mr. Mavrommatis has been appointed. He will immediately undertake the protection of referees, as well as any complaints. The Police will continue to provide security measures in critical matches to referees. Anyone who feels insecure will be able to ask for our extra security.”

The then Chief of Police Kypros Michaelidis had said: “As the Police, we will be next to the referees and the KOP. Thanks for the meeting, it was constructive. We had contacts to clarify the cases. We gave assurances. We will do everything possible to protect football. Anyone who knows, please provide information. The investigative team investigating the case was on its feet all weekend. There have been many investigations directed at the field of football and beyond.”

Cypriot football action resumed two days later (January 22) with cup matches, while the league continued the following weekend, January 25-26, with the games of the postponed 17th matchday. The next matches were moved a week later.

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