Cyprus nears reunification on football field with fresh move from FIFA
NICOSIA – Agence France-Presse
FIFA President Sepp Blatter , has invited the two sides to a meeting in Zurich on Nov. 5. AFP PhotoFootball officials on divided Cyprus sides said Oct. 18 that FIFA has invited them for talks on efforts to bring Greek and Turkish Cypriot teams under one roof for the first time in over 50 years.
Sepp Blatter, president of the football's world governing body, has invited the two sides to a meeting in Zurich on Nov. 5, the Greek Cyprus Football Association (CFA) said on its website.
It said CFA bosses and their Turkish Cypriot counterparts were invited to “finalize a provisional arrangement for football in Cyprus based on” the statutes of FIFA and UEFA, its European counterpart.
"It is expected at the end of the deliberations, the two delegations will sign a document outlining the steps for the progress of football in the whole of Cyprus, with the approval of FIFA and UEFA," the CFA said.
Both the FIFA president and the head of UEFA, Michel Platini, are to attend the Zurich gathering, with any agreement needing to be ratified by the Greek and Turkish Cypriot federations.
Several failed attempts
This move follows meetings from last December and January between local officials to reunite football on the island.
However, previous initiatives to reunite football on the Mediterranean island have hit a brick wall.
FIFA and UEFA recognize the CFA as the island's sole international football authority, while the Turkish Cypriot association - like the island's breakaway north - is not recognized.
Six Greek Cypriot clubs and two Turkish Cypriot ones founded the CTFA in 1934 and played together in an all-island league until inter-communal tensions in 1955 when Greek Cypriots fought against British colonial rule.
Turkish Cypriot clubs decided to form their own federation and organize separate competitions but they remain excluded from international competition.
In an attempt to end the isolation of the clubs from the northern part of the island, in 2008 FIFA looked into ways to allow the Turkish Cypriot clubs to stage friendly international matches via an interim deal with the CTFA. It then proposed the Turkish Cypriots to join the Greek Cypriot Federation to gradually end the isolation.
However, the offer was ultimately declined by the Turkish Cypriots who said they were concerned the move would set a precedent that can harm the political talks for reunification. The proposal still pioneered further talks to allow the Turkish Cypriot clubs to play international games.
In 2011, a club from the town of Lefke applied to join the Greek Cyprus league as a reaction to a 13-match ban and 26,000 Turkish Lira fine for incidents during that year’s cup final. Lefke Türk’s application was accepted by the Greek Cypriots, with the condition of playing their home matches in the southern part of the island. The move failed to be materialized and Lefke played the 2011-2012 in the first tier of the Turkish Cypriot league.