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Cyprus edges closer to football union

FIFA president Blatter to chair talks in Switzerland next month for first union in 60 years

Cyprus edges closer to football union
24.10.2013
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futbol-kktcA POLITICAL settlement may not be any closer in Cyprus, but the island’s Greek and Turkish communities are said to be close to union in another area: football.

The two sides are set to meet in two weeks to discuss the future of the sport on the island after being simultaneously invited by FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

In a joint statement, the football associations for both sides said: “it is expected that 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 arrangement will need to be ratified by the general assemblies of both the [Greek] Cyprus FA and the Cyprus Turkish FA.”

The meeting will be held on 5 November.

DIVISION

A football league has existed in Cyprus since 1934, with all communities playing together for over 20 years. Selection of the national team was commonly arranged to ensure proportionate representation from the Greek, Turkish and small Armenian community, the Cyprus Mail said.

But following the beginning of armed conflict between the two communities the Turkish Cypriot teams withdrew in 1955, forming their own league and football association.

It left the Cyprus FA as the only football association on the island recognised by UEFA and FIFA.

“I hope that they can sort something out, it’s a shame for our young people because there are many talented players,” 82-year-old Sevim Ebeoğlu, a veteran Turkish Cypriot footballer who won three championships with southern club AEL in the early 1950s, told Sports Illustrated.

SUCCESS

North Cyprus’s isolation from international competition has meant it has not been able to enjoy the success of its southern counterparts.

APOEL FC, a team based in the capital Nicosia, has enjoyed particular success in recent times, having reached the quarter finals of last year’s Champions League – a first for a Cypriot team.

Talks for a political union between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities have not produced concrete results since a referendum in 2004.

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