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bomb

A bomb went off early on Friday under the car of the president of Aris Football club of Limassol, John Panayi, in an incident he suspected to be related to his football activities, a claim which if correct would add yet another knot in the long chain of football-related violence in Cyprus.

Cars and houses of several referees, and also of a former Cyprus Football Association president were targets of bomb attacks in the past few years, making Cyprus football one of the most violent in the world.

Police said that the explosive device was placed against the left-right wheel of the car, which was parked in the driveway of Panayi’s house at 4.30 am (2.30 GMT).

The blast caused extensive damage to the vehicle and shattered windowpanes of the bedroom of Panayi’s children, a girl of 8 and a 12-year-old boy.

Pieces of glass were thrown on the bed in which his daughter was sleeping. There were no injuries.

Police said they were probing into the motives of the perpetrators, adding that it was not clear yet whether the incident was in relation to his position as president of second division Aris, one of the oldest Cypriot football clubs.

However, Panayi claimed that the incident was tied to his football activities.

“Indications are that the explosion is related to my position as president of Aris, but I want to make it clear that it was not connected to the issue of UEFA red files,” Panayi said.

He was referring to six files with evidence of manipulation of football games, on which UEFA said increased betting activity had been noticed.

Panayi said that his club is clean and was never involved in match-fixing, but added that some people may have been annoyed because his team is on the way to return to first division soccer after several years.

The incident raised concern among football officials as it was the second bomb attack in a week related to soccer.

Cyprus Football Association canceled all last weekend’s championship fixtures after referees took strike action in protest at a bomb attack on one of their colleagues.

Police connected the attack with two games directed by the referee, one of which UEFA said could have been fixed as suspicious betting activity was recorded. Enditem

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