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Cyprus political parties unite against soccer match-fixing

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus' political parties fully support efforts to clean up domestic soccer and have agreed to start crafting new legislation that will regulate all sports and make it easier to root out corruption, the country's justice minister said on Tuesday.

George Savvides said parties have also pledged their backing to a new sports ethics and protection committee whose role will be to act as a shield against match-fixing. Savvides said after a meeting with political party chiefs that top police officials have agreed to beef up a special squad investigating match-fixing allegations by increasing its number to 13 officers.

A committee will also be set up to collate anti-corruption actions that political parties have recommended. “It's been made crystal clear in this meeting that there's complete agreement on the aims and goals, as well as the desire for all political forces to work together with the government to remove this festering sore from soccer," Savvides said.

The decisions come amid a slew of fresh match-fixing allegations that unleashed a torrent of claims from ordinary citizens to top political figures that authorities have for years turned a blind eye to rampant corruption and underworld dealings in the sport.

UEFA reports of unusually heavy betting on a number of second-division and cup matches got the ball rolling last month by prompting a pledge from Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades to eradicate match-fixing.

The president of second-division club Ayia Napa and a referee are set to stand trial next month on charges that they tried to influence the outcome of a game between Ayia Napa and Othellos.

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