THE Cyprus Sports Organisation (CSO) is in a hurry to form a backgammon (tavli) federation to keep the Turkish Cypriots from registering with the competent European body and representing the island in a tournament next month, its chairman Cleanthis Georgiades said on Thursday.
Ever since news that the Turkish Cypriot backgammon association has already filed for membership with the European Backgammon Federation (EUBGF) and plans on participating in a tournament in Denmark in October, the CSO is racing against time to have a federation formed so that it can stop the team from the north from participating.
For a federation to be formed, at least three sports clubs must join forces, he said, and after they are registered with the CSO, they can apply for membership in European and international federations.
Georgiades told the Cyprus Mail that the CSO already informed the EUBGF of their objections and he believes they will “find a way to prevent the participation of the Turkish Cypriot federation in the tournament”.
This is not a new phenomenon, Georgiades said, with Turkish Cypriots forming sports federations and the Greek Cypriot side establishing an equivalent one to stop them from representing the country in European and international tournaments.
“Over time, this has been the case for a number of non-Olympic sports, and there are so many, for which there was no federation registered with the CSO,” Georgiades said. “We have to form an equivalent to that of the Turkish Cypriots each time”.
In fact, this is how the fencing federation came to be in the government controlled areas, but also the snooker federation.
However, this does not mean that the Turkish Cypriots are always banned from international or European sports events, even if there is an equivalent Greek Cypriot federation registered with the CSO.
According to Georgiades, international and European sports federations each operate based on their own rules and regulations, which means that they can accept as member a Turkish Cypriot federation if their articles of association allow it.
“A few months ago in a snooker tournament in Hungary, the Turkish Cypriot athlete (of the federation in the north) was playing against the Greek Cypriot athlete. We won,” he said.
This is a first in the international sports scene, he said, for athletes from two different federations to represent the same country.
“Each time we protest a lot,” Georgiades said. He added that they are thinking of resorting to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) with the justification that if a sports federation is not registered under an internationally recognised state, it shouldn’t be allowed to participate in such tournaments.
“That way, we can show this ruling to all international and European federations,” he said.
The non-internationally recognised status of the breakaway regime hinders many sports associations registered in the north from participating in most tournaments.
Last year, the Turkish Cypriot Football Association (TCFA) applied to join the ranks of the Cyprus Football Federation (CFA) after a 45-day ultimatum it had issued to resolve Turkish Cypriot footballers’ transfer fees expired. Not recognised internationally, the TCFA has taken on the authorities in the north over Turkish Cypriot football clubs being denied transfer fees for players signed by Turkish clubs – their only shot at professional football.