Cyprus objects to match rescheduling

NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus’s football federation has lodged a formal objection and is seeking cash damages from UEFA over the postponement of a Euro 2004 qualifier against Israel until next April. Cyprus was initially due to play its away leg against Israel in Romania on October 16 because of the volatile security situation in the Middle East, but it was abruptly shifted to April 30 next year. The new date clashes with a friendly Cyprus has scheduled with Greece, while the last-minute postponement disrupted domestic league matches which were not played on October 12-13. Cyprus’s complaint to the UEFA appeals body seeks an order summoning all teams in Group One – France, Malta, Israel and Slovenia – to reschedule all remaining games. The Cypriots are also petitioning for Israel to be either disqualified from the competition or have the three points of the game forfeited in favor of Cyprus. The Cyprus Football Association (CFA) filed an objection to the European soccer ruling body on October 11. The Politis daily reported Cyprus wanted some $300,000 in damages. According to documents made available to Reuters, the CFA says that UEFA Chief Executive Gerhard Aigner suggested the postponement without consulting them, or taking into account that Israel had secured the alternative venue of Romania in the meantime. The postponement, the CFA said, was «taken on the mere assumption that the situation in Israel may improve in the meantime, upsetting the CFA’s championships and/or its commitments concerning friendly international games.» UEFA has ordered Israeli clubs and the national team to play home matches at neutral venues until the security situation improves. Israeli clubs taking part in European competitions have played their home matches in Cyprus and Bulgaria. The CFA said it stood to lose some $200,000 in ticket sales from the game with Greece, and another $88,200 from backing out of a deal with a commercial partner.