Everyone must work together to help resolve the deep-rooted issue of hooliganism, as the police is not able to fight the problem alone, spokesman Andreas Angelides said yesterday.
He was commenting on the violent incidents that took place in Nicosia and Limassol on Saturday night after APOEL defeated AEL to win its 23rd title.
In Limassol, angry AEL fans went on the rampage, wrecking shop windows and cars, while in Nicosia three APOEL fans were arrested for throwing rocks at police after the celebrations outside the club building.
Angelides said the police chief has ordered an investigation into how the force had acted during this season’s games. The aim is to see how legislation can be implemented more effectively in the future but also to adopt a zer- tolerance policy for those who create violent incidents.
The spokesman said that although the changes to police practice has brought improved results, police cannot handle the issue alone and that all relevant institutions must take effective action.
“There was a plan for policing the specific game and there was a plan for Limassol. But once more we witnessed an anti-social behaviour manifested by a group of people at every opportunity, either with rocks or malicious damage, or attacks on police members,” Angelides told reporters.
The incidents in both towns were unprovoked and “the causes are deeper”, he added.
Commenting on trouble that took place at Ayios Nicolaos roundabout in Limassol, the spokesman said a group of about 200 AEL fans who then increased to 400 and had their faces covered with ski masks, lit torches and flares, set fire to rubbish bins and threw stones at police officers.
On arrival of police reinforcements from other districts, the rioters disappeared into the darkness and hid in the basements of nearby apartment blocks. The damage is estimated at approximately €20,000.
There were also damages to six police vehicles, a citizen’s vehicle and rubbish bins, while two members of the police were injured and transferred to Limassol General Hospital.
“Beyond everything that has happened and the damage, other incidents in the area were averted,” Angelides said, noting that an investigative team has been set up by the Limassol CID to look into the incidents and arrests may follow.
Commenting on the incidents that took place in Nicosia as APOEL fans celebrated, Angelides said three individuals aged 17, 22 and 39 were arrested by the Police Rapid Response Unit (MMAD) for throwing stones and molotovs at police officers and causing disturbance in the area, while the 39-year-old verbally abused members of the force.
In addition, three APOEL fans reported that they were attacked by about 30 unknown people wearing green and black t-shirts on their way to join celebrations at the club’s lodge in Nicosia.
According to the report, the alleged attackers caused damage to the car, while they tried to pull the three fans out of their vehicle and forced them to hand over the APOEL shirts they were wearing.
“After they took the shirts, the attackers ran away and police are investigating the complaint,” Angelides said.
The spokesman also said that there was strong police presence during the game and that fans were prohibited from approaching the Larnaca stadium where the match was held behind closed doors.