By Iacovos ConstantinouTHE men in black (or green, or mauve, or blue or pink nowadays) were the unsavoury ‘stars’ of the final round of the Cyprus football championship this week before the Christmas break.In all but one of the seven games played, the officials managed to grab the headlines by willfully or not affecting the results with ludicrous decisions.The worrying aspect is that both inexperienced and experienced officials were guilty of such decisions. On the positive side, if one can call it positive, is that the gaffes were not intentionally made to favour a particular team, but merely because that is the standard of Cyprus refereeing.In the game between Paralimni and Ermis the ref disallowed what looked like a perfectly good goal and then minutes from the end awarded a non-existent (the striker who won the penalty managed to trip over his own legs outside the box) penalty to the team he had wronged earlier on in the game.Anorthosis, who so far this season had been accused by other clubs and fans of getting the rub of the green, got the short end of the stick this time.The referee awarded their opponents, Ethnikos, a penalty that even had their own players bewildered – in fact everybody believed that the ref had blown for simulation.The same referee then decided at the end of the 90 minutes to add on a further five for added time but when that was up and he still had some energy to burn, he added an extra three minutes for reasons known only to him.The referee of the Salamina v Ayia Napa game has to sit down and re-read the rules of football.The hawk-eyed official spotted a defender dragging an opponent to the ground in the penalty area with the ball in play elsewhere. A yellow card was brandished to the defender but for some reason no penalty was awarded.In the two big games between APOEL v AEK and AEL v Apollon, legitimate penalty claims were waved away while in the APOEL v AEK match, leg-breaking challenges that should have warranted red cards went completely unpunished.The icing on the cake though must be Omonia’s winning goal against Doxa. In the build-up, the ball had clearly gone out of play by a foot or so but neither the referee nor his assistant spotted it.A clean bill of health from their optician is a must for both if they are to officiate again.Doxa’s hapless coach was red carded for arguing the obvious to the ref but he should know better. He is no Sir Alex Ferguson or Manchester United as Tottenham’s Pedro Mendes will probably testify following an infamous incident in the Premier League back in 2005 (below).
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