Cyprus

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USMNT vet Williams signs for Cypriot side Pafos FC

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USMNT midfielder Danny Williams is taking his terrific career down an unusual path.

The 30-year-old center midfielder became a free agent after Huddersfield Town was relegated from the Premier League, and opted to join Cypriot new boys Pafos FC. Pafos was formed in 2014 by the merger of AEK Kouklia and AEP Paphos.

[ MORE: USMNT strengths and weaknesses ]

Surely there’s a lot of money involved, but the five-year old project has attracted plenty of attention. Pafos also has Jason Puncheon, Bakary Sako, Stephen Sunday, and Adam Nemec on the books.

Williams becomes their highest profile non-Cypriot player, and they’ll count on him if they have any hope of bettering their league-best finish of eighth. APOEL Nicosia has won the last seven titles, while Apollon Limassol, AEL Limassol, and AEK Larnaca are well-established.

He made 25 appearances over two years in the Premier League after a transfer from Reading, where played 156 times. Prior to that, the 23-times capped American spent time with Hoffenheim and Freiburg.

The German-born Williams may not find his way back to the USMNT due to this move and his age, but we’ll always have this banger in a blowout loss to Brazil.

APOEL doctor hurt after objects hurled at bench

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NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) Cypriot police say an APOEL team doctor was taken to the hospital after opposing soccer fans hurled objects toward the Nicosia club’s bench.

Police say the 62-year-old doctor collapsed on the field and broke into convulsions at the end of Wednesday’s match against Anorthosis Famagusta.

A stadium physician found that the doctor’s tongue had blocked his airway. The doctor, who also had bruising on his left ear and face, was treated in the hospital and released.

Police also say three cars belonging to Anorthosis fans parked outside their stadium sustained deep gouges.

The match ended in a 0-0 draw. APOEL, which is trying to win a record sixth-consecutive league title, is two points behind Apollonas Limassol with four matches remaining.

APOEL rejects coach’s resignation offer after poor showing

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NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) The board of directors of Cyprus champion APOEL has rejected coach Giorgos Donis’ resignation offer after a 1-1 draw with last-placed Ethnikos left the team well back in the standings.

Donis said after Saturday’s game that he took full responsibility for APOEL’s lackluster performances. But in a tweet, APOEL’s top brass said they don’t accept the Greek coach’s resignation and “it’s everyone’s obligation to correct the situation.”

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The team sits in eighth place, 11 points behind leader AEK Larnaca but with three games in hand.

APOEL faces Borussia Dortmund next week in a Champions League Group H game.

APOEL managed a 1-1 home draw against the German champion last week for its first point in the competition after successive 3-0 losses to Real Madrid and Tottenham.

Malta captain mutes goal celebration after journalist slain

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Malta captain Andre Schembri says the car bomb slaying of a Maltese investigative journalist prompted him not to exult after scoring an historic goal.

Schembri’s temporary equalizer for Cypriot club Apollon in a 3-1 loss to Italian side Atalanta in the Europa League on Thursday made him the first Maltese player to score in proper European competition – excluding qualifying.

[ PL PREVIEW: Saints vs. West Brom ]

But instead of pumping his fist or leaping in joy over the achievement, Schembri hung his head as teammates mobbed him.

Schembri wrote on Facebook on Friday, “Celebrating my goal didn’t feel right after what happened in Malta this week.”

Malta has been stunned since Monday by the slaying of Daphne Caruana Galizia, an anti-corruption reporter whose targets included Malta’s leading politicians.

“When they killed Daphne I wasn’t able to sleep for three nights,” Schembri told the ANSA news agency. “Malta is Europe, it’s not the third world. We need to be united when faced with grief like this, to say that we’re better than all of this.

“I love my country and with that goal it came naturally to me to think about a reporter’s freedom and the life of a mother of three children.”

Cyprus imposes harsh penalties for suspected match-fixing

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NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) The Cypriot soccer association followed through with a pledge to impose harsh penalties on any clubs suspected of match-fixing after UEFA ranked the country’s championship to be among the worst offenders in Europe.

The executive board said penalties that come into force Tuesday will begin with a 50,000 euro ($53,085) fine for a first offense, followed by a six-point loss and a 50,000 euro fine for a second. Two-time offenders will be held back from moving up a division if they’re eligible. A third offense will mean relegation and a halt to all funding. Offenders caught a fourth time will incur a five-year ban and a 100,000 euro ($106,170) fine.

The penalties mirror those recommended by UEFA, with the biggest difference being that the Cypriot association saved the harshest punishment for clubs flagged by UEFA for match-fixing suspicions for a fourth time instead of three.

No action will be taken if a match suspected to have been fixed fails to deliver a result favored by suspicious betting activity.

Cypriot officials said rampant match-fixing in the national championship was possibly linked to betting in Asia. The Cyprus soccer association has received files on 75 matches suspected of being fixed since 2011.

“I believe the measures are severe and that the association will support them,” Association Deputy President George Koumas said.

Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said the only way the problem can be dealt with is if authorities put their words into action.

“This is a situation that insults our championship and indeed our country,” Nicolaou told reporters. “No one should drag their feet on this in the slightest, and the Cyprus soccer association must act quickly and decisively.”

Nicolaou said strict penalties won’t be enough to stop match-fixing without giving authorities the legal tools to go after the perpetrators, including a law lifting curbs on wiretaps. The justice minister said he’s aiming to put a comprehensive anti-match fixing law to a vote in parliament early next year.