Even surrender may not help
The Turkish Cypriot Football Federation, in a move which was supported by the present Turkish Cypriot government and the president, pushed aside a fundamental “equality of the two peoples of the island” demand, surrendered to the Greek Cypriots and accepted to become a subordinate of the Greek Cypriot-hijacked Cyprus Football Federation (KOP).
At the time there was a conservative president. The government was a coalition of two conservative parties. The president was against it and the government was against it but the leftist opposition was fully supportive of the opportunist moves of the football federation – which indeed was blackmail to get a donation worth an additional few hundred thousand Turkish Liras from Turkey. The file was built on a legitimate issue. Since the Turkish Cypriot Football Federation was not internationally recognized and there was an embargo on northern Cyprus which covered all social contacts, including soccer matches, neither could Turkish Cypriot footballers and their clubs have encounters even with Turkish clubs, nor could footballers become professional. Clubs could not sell or hire their footballers; footballers could not get huge transfer payments from Turkish clubs, joining them free of charge as if they were amateur players.
This has been a problem in all walks of life in northern Cyprus because of the inhumane economic, political and social blockade imposed on them by the “very friendly” Greek Cypriot brothers next door, with whom they were aspiring to build a common future in their common house, Cyprus.
The remedy ought to be sought in finding ways to overcome the isolation rather than surrender to Greek Cypriots in a manner that could set an example for future efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem. Why would Greek Cypriots negotiate a resolution on the basis of political equality and power sharing if Turkish Cypriots were ready to surrender and become their affiliate as the football federation agreed to?
Despite all the objections – which postponed the process for almost two years – eventually the opportunist chairperson of the Turkish Cypriot Football Federation, Hasan Sertoğlu, defied all pressures, even ignored a vow by then Education and Sports Minister Serdar Denktaş, that he would be boycotted – a challenge that turned out to be an empty one – and signed a FIFA-brokered agreement with KOP. The accord – subject to approval at the general assemblies of both federations – empowered the Turkish Cypriot Football Federation to organize football events in northern Cyprus (as an affiliate and thus in the name of the KOP) in exchange for international recognition by becoming an affiliate of the KOP.
Despite all the political and social pressures on Sertoğlu and his small gang of opportunists, with the support of defeatist leftist politicians, particularly with the support of former President Mehmet Ali Talat and his Republican Turks’ Party, as well as the Communal Democracy Party of current President Mustafa Akıncı, the deal was signed and approved at the general convention of the Turkish Cypriot Football Federation.
Alas, the Greek Cypriots said “Oxi” (No): “The process is not an automatic one. We will have to go through our records and look whether there was ever a member with the Turkish Football Federation registered with the KOP. If not, sorry, we cannot get you onboard.”
The KOP was established back in 1955 and at the time there was British administration on the island. Under the practice of the time, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots had their separate educational and sports establishments, even though three Turkish clubs were registered with the Greek Cypriot federation.
Despite all the stomach pain of Sertoğlu and friends, the Greek Cypriot compatriots who were so eager to travel to Geneva and sign the FIFA-brokered surrender of the Turkish Cypriot football federation document so happily, spent years with “Sorry buddy, looking at what we can do... Will probably find a way out” excuses, with no Turkish Cypriot footballer obtaining the prospect of signing a contract with Greek Cypriot or mainland Turkish clubs...
A while ago, the KOP finally came up with an answer and told Sertoğlu: “Sorry buddy, you surrendered, accepted becoming our affiliate. But, we cannot let you in because you were not our member in 1955.”
Now, Sertoğlu is tearing at some parts of his body to prove his federation was a member of the KOP in 1955 but Greek Cypriots did not have good will and intentions, creating artificial problems.
Well, defeatism or unconditional surrender may not suffice sometimes. Briefing NGO representatives on Tuesday about how he was surrendering Turkish Cypriot positions one-by-one to Greek Cypriot buddy Niko (Anastasiades), Akıncı was unaware of the KOP ordeal, or the bitter lessons that must be learned from Sertoğlu’s “buddy affair” with the KOP.