SPORTS

Police arrest Anorthosis chief

LARNACA (AFP) – The president of Cypriot soccer league side Anorthosis appeared in court on Saturday after being arrested by police probing embezzlement allegations raised by fellow board members. Andreas Panteli, 48, was arrested late on Friday by police looking into financial mismanagement involving 1 million euros, according to a Cyprus police statement. He was remanded in custody by a Nicosia court for three days after a request for bail was denied, police said. «Police are investigating a case of forgery, distribution of forged documents, theft, obtaining money under false pretences and trying to cover it up,» the statement said, adding that police also searched the business premises of the high-profile soccer figure. «The 48-year-old member of the board is accused by fellow executive members of obtaining 418,498 euros under false pretences and attempting to take another 500,000 euros in assets that belong to the club,» it added. The offenses are said to have taken place between August and November this year in the capital Nicosia and the eastern coastal town of Larnaca, where the club is temporarily located, as it was forced to leave its original base, Famagusta, during the Turkish invasion on the island in 1974 in response to a Greek-inspired coup. The police probe comes only days after Anorthosis drew 2-2 against Werder Bremen in the Champions League after letting slip a two-goal lead. Board member Antonis Demetriou told reporters that Panteli was accused of financial impropriety, because, he claimed, «hundreds of thousand of euros have gone from the club without justification.» On Friday, Panteli said he was «shocked and surprised» by the rumor campaign against him and that he had «nothing to hide.» He said in the five years since taking over the 12-time Cyprus champions, there was «never a problem with financial management and the accounts were always audited with the full knowledge of the board.» Moreover, the businessman voiced hope that the revelations would not have a negative effect on the team’s progress in Europe’s premier club tournament. Team manager Temuri Ketsbaia has told a local radio station that he stands by the club president, to whom he is very close. The revelations have rocked public opinion and Anorthosis fans have criticized the move against Panteli, with abusive graffiti being daubed on the walls outside the club’s Larnaca stadium. Anorthosis Famagusta lies third in Group B of the Champions League and a win away to Panathinaikos in Athens next month would secure an unlikely berth in the last 16. So far in the competition, it has only lost once in five starts. It is also top of the Cyprus league after defeating newly promoted Atromitos Geroskipou 3-0 at home last night.