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UEFA should have been tougher, APOEL FC must apologise to Turkish Cypriots

embargoedEmbargoed! welcomed the news that APOEL FC has been fined €40,000 for the racist actions of its supporters during a recent Champions League match with Chelsea. However, the London based human rights group believes UEFA should have been much tougher with the Greek Cypriot football club. The group’s chair Fevzi Hussein has also called on APOEL’s President Phivos Erotokritou to apologise for the offence his club has caused to Turkish Cypriots.

In an email to Embargoed! chair Fevzi Hussein, UEFA today confirmed that, “following the UEFA Champions League match APOEL FC – Chelsea FC, played on 30 September 2009 in Nicosia, APOEL FC were fined 40,000 Euros for throwing of missiles, racist behaviour and illicit banner”. No further details were provided to Embargoed! as the UEFA spokesperson stated, “the detailed and full reasoning of disciplinary decisions is not made public by UEFA but is communicated to the parties involved in a disciplinary case.” The spokesperson claimed they had made it clear to the club that “UEFA has a zero tolerance approach with regards to incidents of discriminatory behaviour … further occurrence of any such incident would be dealt with severity by the disciplinary bodies.”

Chair Fevzi Hussein said, “APOEL deeply offended Turkish Cypriots with their xenophobic banners and inflammatory leaflets that clearly incited racial hatred of Turks. UEFA had a number of sanctions it could have imposed and a €40,000 fine is pretty mild given the circumstances. If they are serious about combating racism, UEFA have to act tough where it matters. APOEL are a serial offender and merited much tougher action.” He continued, “We call on APOEL FC’s President Phivos Erotokritou to apologise to Turkish Cypriots for the offence his club has caused during the Chelsea match and to give a public undertaking APOEL will not tolerate such racist behaviour in the future.”

Last year, APOEL FC was fined €30,000 by UEFA after their supporters shouted racist chants against Red Star Belgrade. Following their match with Chelsea in September, UEFA charged the club with a number of offences including racially abusing a UEFA official, displaying discriminatory “Cyprus is Greek” banners and the throwing of missiles. It is not clear from UEFA’s communication if the club were investigated for allowing the distribution of racist material, produced by APOEL’s official supporters club, during the Chelsea match.

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