The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
APOEL fans protest Cyprus' FA decision to replay abandoned season finale against AEL
NICOSIA, Cyprus - Hundreds of APOEL fans staged a peaceful protest outside the Cyprus Football Association's headquarters on Tuesday over the decision to replay the team's match against AEL Limassol that was abandoned on the season's final weekend.
The May 17th match between the two sides at Limassol's Tsirion stadium was stopped in the 51st minute after APOEL's Brazilian defender Kaka suffered a head injury when a flare allegedly launched by an AEL fan went off in the team's bench.
APOEL President Prodromos Petrides, flanked by the team's veteran players and other board members, led a mile-long march to the Cyprus FA's headquarters with trailing fans waiving APOEL flags and chanting anti-FA slogans.
"Rest assured, we're doing everything we can to find justice for APOEL," Petrides told fans.
APOEL spokesman Nectarios Petevinos told the Associated Press that the protest aimed to underscore that the FA should have awarded the match to APOEL crowning the team champions. He said the "unjust" replay decision legitimates violence by not meting out the appropriate punishment.
The Cyprus FA's Judiciary Committee had found in a majority ruling last week that it would be "unfair" to rule against AEL outright, opting instead to allow the championship to be decided on the field.
APOEL has already filed an appeal against the ruling, which will be heard Thursday — two days before the replay is scheduled to take place between the two sides without any fans at the neutral Antonis Papadopoulos stadium in Larnaca.
A victory for APOEL would put it on par with league leader AEL in terms of points, but it would take the championship on account of a better head-to-head record.
Petrides told the AP that the team would respect the appeal board's decision and ruled out the possibility that the team would boycott the replay.
Cyprus police said a 25-year old man suspected of launching the flare that injured Kaka was charged with use of a dangerous object and released on 10,000 euros bail. The suspect will plead at the Limassol District Court on June 20th.
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