Cyprus football set for reunification after long split
NICOSIA – Reuters
Belgium's Axel Witsel, left, fights for the ball with Cyprus' Marios Nikolaou during the Euro 2016 Group B qualifying soccer match between Belgium and Cyprus, at the King Baudouin stadium, in Brussels on Saturday, March 28, 2015. AP Photo/Laurent DubruleFootball reunification in Cyprus is set to move closer on Monday when the Cyprus Turkish Football Association (CTFA) will apply for membership of the UEFA-recognised Cyprus Football Association (CFA) in the Greek Cypriot-controlled south.
CTFA chairman Hasan Sertoğlu is expected to make the announcement at a news conference on March 30, officials familiar with the situation said.
An initial agreement was signed in Zurich in November, 2013 with CFA chairman Costakis Koutsokoumnis in the presence of FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini.
The CFA and CTFA split almost 60 years ago and despite this initial agreement, many difficulties lie ahead if football is to be reunified on the island.
Under the terms of the Zurich agreement, the CTFA is to apply for membership of the CFA, essentially inducting all the Turkish Cypriot clubs.
The CFA would then recognise the CTFA as one of its associate members, giving it the duty of handling matters regarding Turkish Cypriot clubs and the right to organise a championship.
The TCFA, though, sought guarantees that once a member, games would eventually take place between Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot teams, something the CFA has not publicly guaranteed.
Talks of reunification have been met with derision in certain quarters. But despite opposition from political parties in the Turkish north of the island, Sertoğlu has had the unwavering support of the clubs while uncertainty still remains in the south regarding the deal.
Earlier this season Demetris Vassiliou became the first Greek Cypriot player in over half a century to play for a Turkish Cypriot club. Despite the Zurich deal, the 36-year-old received death threats from fellow Greek Cypriots.