Limassol football club AEL have issued a reward of €5,000 to anyone who can lead the authorities to the capture of the individual who fired a loud fire-cracker on Saturday that injured a footballer and prompted the abandonment of their league title deciding game.
League leaders AEL needed only a draw against visitors APOEL in the highly-charged season finale on Saturday to clinch the league title but the game was stopped by referee Demetris Masias when a loud firecracker who thrown from the stands – occupied by the AEL supporters – of the Tsirion Stadium in Limassol, causing a loud explosion.
The blast, threw APOEL’s Brazilian substitute Kaka and team doctor Costas Schizas to the ground. The explosion also caused damage to the plexiglass shield in front of the APOEL bench. Moments earlier, visiting APOEL fans threw bottles and cartons onto the side of the pitch.
The outcome of the game – which will effectively decide who will be the champions of Cyprus this year – will now be decided at the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) tribunal on Thursday.
Police and security officials were also criticised in the wake of the attack for not conducting thorough searches of fans entering the ground in Limassol.
According to AEL, the perpetrator in the attack is believed to be a man hiding behind a skeleton mask.
“The board of the club is offering €5,000 to anyone who can give important information in the help to capture the culprit,” read a club announcement. “The media had wrongfully announced that he has been caught and we call on anyone with any information to come forward. We call on the fans of AEL to remain calm. The board will do whatever it can to safeguard the club.”
Meanwhile, Kaka was treated for injuries to his eardrum while he also received stitches to his head, sustained when he fell to the ground.
In the moments after the game, AEL chairman Andreas Sofocleous had pleaded with CFA officials and police not to stop the game even suggesting that he would stand behind the APOEL bench to prevent further attacks from AEL supporters behind them.
APOEL chairman Prodromos Petrides, however, appeared determined to see the game stopped telling television cameras that “the safety of our players is non-negotiable.”