Weeks before I was already excited about my visit of the Nicosia derby, “Derby of the Eternal Enemies”, between APOEL and Omonia. The island itself is a bit unknown for the majority in Europe when it comes to football culture. Besides APOEL Nicosia, who had several appearances in the Champions League, you do not hear much about it. I think that is a shame, because the fanatism of football fans is huge. The passion on the stands is magnificent. Especially when it comes to the derby in the capital of the Island.
Unfortunately derby day started with a heavy thunderstorm and lots of rain. For an island which has 300 sunny days a year, a day like this in exception. Apparantly it was a warning signal for the rest of the day. Via the internet I received some words that the away fans might boycot the derby, the reason is not exactly known. As we arrived at the stadium, it was very quiet. It was an hour before kick-off, but nothing gave the impression of a fierce derby to be expected shortly. Only a significant amount of police tells me that something might happen, but nowadays authorities don’t hesitate to present ridiculous police forces at meaningless matches. Nothing surprises me anymore I suppose.
Time is ticking and kick-off is getting closer. But no ultras whatsoever close to the stadium. There are awayfans, but not that many. The day before they told us 200 away fans were expected, but no ultras on that side. Eventually we chose to go into the stadium 15 minutes before the start of the match. I was already dissapointed, but kept my hope of a last minute arrival of the APOEL ultras. Unfortunately not.
Also the utltras of APOEL boycotted this derby. Apparantly the authorities took several measures which made the ultras decide not to come to the stadium anymore. I am not exactly sure, but measures like mandatory ID checks for buying tickets for high risk games, a fine of 2500 EUR per lighted flare in the stadium and other security measures. It shows authorities don’t have a clue that football supporters make football the great sport it is. Now we were watching a derby without any atmosphere, half empty stadium and a club which loses quit some money each week because the supporters stay away.
So my respect goes out to the fanatic supporters (ultras) of both APOEL and Omonia for taking action and standing their ground regarding their believes. Football is a lifestyle, passion is the expression of the love for it! Hopefully I can return someday seeing both ultra groups back in the stands supporting their football club.
The match itself had a very good first half. Two magnificent goals by Ebicilio gave APOEL a well deserved start of the match, but Omonia fought back. First 2-1 and shortly after they equalized. Unfortunately for them the striker was called offside. Hard to tell it the linesman was correct about that. Second half was very bad. APOEL forgot to finish the match early and Omonia wasn’t able to equalise.