By Peter Stevenson
THE Cyprus Football Association (CFA) and the Cyprus Turkish Football Association (CTFA) signed a landmark agreement in Zurich on Tuesday, paving the way for the reunification of football on the island after almost 60 years.
“A major milestone in the history of Cypriot football was reached today, November 5, 2013, with the signing of a provisional arrangement for the organisation of football in Cyprus at the Home of FIFA in Zurich,” a FIFA statement said.
The document was signed by CFA chairman Costakis Koutsokoumnis and the CFTA chairman Hasan Sertoglu in the presence of FIFA President Sepp Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini.
However, reports later on in the day suggested the ‘milestone’ is more of a transient rainbow as it immediately came under fire from one of the cosignatories.
According to the Istanbul correspondent of state broadcaster CyBC, as soon as the agreement was signed, Sertoglu stressed that this was simply a draft agreement, which needed certain amendments, and was not the final deal. The CTFA chairman reportedly said he would not take the agreement as is to his general assembly for approval.
Under the arrangement the CTFA will become a member of the CFA as an association in accordance with CFA statutes and regulations. The CFA will continue being a member of FIFA and UEFA. It will also remain the governing body responsible for organising, servicing and administering football in Cyprus as well as any international football activities in the country. Both parties agreed on the setting up of a steering committee to work towards implementing the agreement.
“The agreement, 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 in the island of Cyprus through a relationship of trust, mutual respect and goodwill,” the statement added.
Blatter, one of the most powerful figures in world football, said: “Both the 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.”
Platini welcomed the courage and the determination of the two sides to reach agreement on the matter, while President Nicos Anastasiades expressed his “deep satisfaction” with the provisional arrangement, which, he said, has his full support.
He described the step as a “positive and encouraging development” and hoped that implementation of the agreement would “gradually lead to the integration of football in Cyprus”.
Koutsokoumnis said the signing marked a historic day for Cypriot football and the people of Cyprus.
He was accompanied by CFA board members Giorgos Koumas, Andreas Santis and Nicos Nicolaou. Accompanying Sertoglu were CTFA members Orcun Kamali, Hasan Balman and advisor Jerome Champagne.
The agreement will must be approved by both associations’ general assemblies before it can be implemented. It is considered only temporary until a solution to the wider political problem on the island is found.
Under the terms of the agreement, the CTFA will apply to be a member of the CFA, essentially inducting all the Turkish Cypriot clubs.
The CFA will 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 with its members.
Once the CTFA is inducted into the CFA, it will be able to have representatives present at board meetings. A steering committee will be formed to work towards implementing the agreement, made up of four Greek Cypriots and four Turkish Cypriots.
The agreement will also oblige Turkish Cypriot teams to adhere to FIFA regulations regarding transfers. They will be able take part in CFA competitions and the UEFA Regions Cup. Turkish Cypriot coaches will also be able to obtain UEFA coaching licences through the CFA.
The arrangement can be terminated at any time by either side, annulling any of the terms of the agreement.
Turkish Cypriot teams withdrew from the CFA in 1955, following the beginning of the armed EOKA struggle for union with Greece.
The last match to take place was between Larnaca side Pezoporikos and Cetinkaya in the semi-final of the Cyprus Cup.