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Decades-old rivalry flared up recently.

THE RIVALRY between supporters of Omonia and APOEL started decades ago but has only escalated into serious violence in recent years.

The rivalry between the fans also extends across the political spectrum, as they both come from different backgrounds.

APOEL, the Athletic and Football Club of the Greeks of Nicosia, has a right-wing following while Omonia, which was founded by members of APOEL who abandoned the club in 1948, has a left-wing leaning.

Some politicians publicly fuel the flames by openly getting involved in football in Cyprus.

Years ago, it was not uncommon for supporters of both teams to attend a game together, sit on separate terraces and leave the grounds together.

There was always, of course, taunting and exchange of verbal abuse -- and the occasional flying object -- but nothing like what we see today.

The violence has gradually escalated, leading to the serious injury last year of an APOEL fan who lost an eye in a clash with Omonia fans.

It was not immediately known what prompted that attack.

APOEL supporters are not satisfied with the course of justice on that case and maintain there has been a cover up with the blessings of the current administration, whose main partner, AKEL, is left-wing.

That attack was followed by a couple of unsuccessful arson attempts against the Omonia clubhouse.

In May last year -- during what was an ostensibly insignificant game between the two, as APOEL were already crowned champions -- APOEL fans threw an Omonia supporter down the stairs of the terrace of the GSP stadium. The man was not seriously injured.

Copyright Cyprus Mail 2009

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Nov 17, 2009
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