Cypriot football unified with historic deal
ZURICHGreek and Turkish Cypriot football associations have inked a provisional arrangement for the organization of football in the island, marking a major turning point in the history of Cypriot football.
The document that will end the isolation of the clubs from the northern part of the island was signed by Greek Cyprus Football Association (CFA) President Costakis Koutsokoumnis and Turkish Cyprus Football Association (CTFA) President Hasan Sertoğlu at the home of FIFA in Zurich Nov. 5.
FIFA President Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini were also present at the ceremony, confirming the arrangement as witnesses, a press release has said.
“Both the [Greek] Cyprus Football Association and the Cyprus Turkish Football Association are today providing the whole world with an excellent example of how football can build bridges and bring people together after a long period of conflict,” said FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter.
He also thanked both associations as well as the UEFA for their outstanding contribution to the arrangement he also dubbed as milestone.
Under the arrangement, the CTFA becomes a member of the CFA in accordance with the Greek organization’s statutes and regulations.
As FIFA and UEFA recognize the CFA as the island’s sole international football authority, the Turkish Cypriot association - like the island’s breakaway north - is not recognized, keeping Turkish Cypriot teams to play with international rivals.
The arrangement, which is based on the FIFA and UEFA statutes and only concerns football-related matters, aims to unify and facilitate the progress of football within the football communities on the island of Cyprus through a relationship based on trust, mutual respect and goodwill.
As part of the deal, both parties agreed on the setting up of a steering committee to work towards implementing the arrangement.
Previous initiatives to reunite football on the Mediterranean island had hit a brick wall.
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 materialize and Lefke played the 2011-2012 in the first tier of the Turkish Cypriot league.