Apoel Fans Attack Turkish Basketball Team
Around 500 APOEL fans mobbed a locker room where Turkish Pinar Karşıyaka players were sheltering after a FIBA game between the two teams at the Tassos Papadopoulos stadium in Nicosia last night.
According to police, they were forced to use tear gas against the APOEL fans, who damaged two police cars and a bus which was parked in the area. Five police officers were injured in the fighting, with one policewoman seriously injured in her eye.
During the match - which was won by APOEL 82-80 - there were no problems, said police. The trouble started after the end of the match when APOEL fans threw stones and other objects at the Turkish players. According to team manager Nihat Mala, some members of the Turkish team were injured. Cyprus police had a different story, with a police spokesman saying that the Turkish team was safely escorted to their hotel and there were no injuries to players.
Three 15-year-old boys who were arrested in connection with the violence have since been released, and police are continuing their investigations into the events. Hooliganism has become more and more prevalent in recent years, with violent incidents following many games, particularly in football. Police say that many of the attacks are carefully planned ahead of time and coordinated by ringleaders who take molotov cocktails and stones in the trunks of their cars to the games.
So far, there has been no comment from FIBA, but the incident was slammed by Turkish-Cypriot spokesman Hüseyin Özgürgün who released a statement calling the hooliganism 'racist' and indicative of 'Greek-Cypriot fanaticism', and urging FIBA to take action.
President Demetris Christofias condemned the violence as the behaviour of 'mindless hooligans'.