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Arsonists torch Cypriot referee's car

NICOSIA, Cyprus -- A Cypriot football official criticised authorities on Tuesday for not doing enough to deal with a string of unsolved bomb and arson attacks against referees in the country.

Leontios Trattos said six such unsolved attacks stretching back a year have cast doubt over authorities' willingness and ability to stamp out the problem.

Trattos, a former head of the Cyprus Referees' Association, said that after each attack, "everyone repeats the same empty pronouncements" about punishing the culprits and taking drastic action.

"But after three or four days, everything's forgotten and every official again rests easy in their seats, purporting to have done their duty," Trattos said in a statement.

Trattos' remarks came after arsonists torched a car he uses in a pre-dawn attack Tuesday. Police said arsonists doused the car with a flammable liquid and set it ablaze in a Nicosia apartment building parking lot.

It's the second time Trattos has been targeted in a year. In February, unknown culprits placed a bomb on the hood of his car.

Trattos said he does his job in a strictly impartial way and does what he thinks is best for the sport and his profession.

"If some want to take that right away from me through such actions, they should at least tell me directly and maybe I'll help them with the decision I make," he said.

The Cyprus Referees' Association said in a statement that such attacks continue "without any real measures being taken."

In January, referees boycotted all football matches for a week in retaliation to a midnight bomb attack at the home of a colleague's mother.

Last month, a new group claimed responsibility for two of five bomb attacks against referees in the past year.

Cypriot football has come under scrutiny following recent allegations that the sport is riddled with match-fixing by referees.

In an interview with The Associated Press, senior referee Marios Panayi said some of his colleagues are deciding the outcomes of games with incorrect calls ordered up by a senior Cyprus Football Association official.

Panayi said the official manipulates team standings to keep himself in power and to keep negotiating lucrative television rights deals.

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