By Peter Stevenson
THE provisional arrangement to reunite football in Cyprus suffered a setback yesterday as the chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Football Association (TCFA) Hasan Sertoğlu said that he does not accept the founding document drafted on Tuesday.
“I do not accept this text. This is not an agreement. It cannot go to (our) general assembly in this form,” he said, adding that efforts to improve it would continue.
Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu fuelled the controversy by saying he was convinced that Turkish Cypriot clubs would never accept being ruled by the Greek Cypriot administration.
The arrangement is not under negotiation, said Cyprus Football Association (CFA) chairman Costakis Koutsokoumnis, responding to reports in the Turkish Cypriot press that that Sertoğlu was unhappy with the terms of the agreement.
A provisional arrangement had been reached at FIFA headquarters in Zurich on Tuesday, with both Koutsokoumnis and Sertoğlu signing the document in the presence of FIFA President Joseph Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini. Under the arrangement, the TCFA would become an associate member of the CFA.
The daily Halkin Sesi quoted Sertoglu as saying: “I told Blatter that we could not take it in this form and our objections were accepted. If this text goes to the general assembly as it is, I will do whatever I can so it will not be accepted”.
Commenting on the TCFA chairman’s statements, Koutsokoumnis said that Sertoglu was well aware of what he was signing.
“It is hard to believe that within 24 hours he wants to change the arrangement”, he said, adding that the reaction was probably the result of pressure from the Turkish Cypriot leadership Koutsokoumnis noted that the CFA considers that its planning for next season will be based on the document signed in Zurich. “If Sertoglu disagrees with the document, he should raise his disagreements with us and with FIFA and UEFA”, he added.
Asked when the arrangement would be put before the two organisations’ general assemblies for approval, he said that nothing has been planned so far.
Replying to a question whether the CFA would be willing to return to the negotiating table and discuss changes to the document, Koutsokoumnis said the terms could not be changed because of the whims or pressure of the Turkish Cypriots political leadership.
As far as the CFA was concerned, he said that the document was valid and the arrangement would proceed on the basis of its provisions. “If the Turkish Cypriots wish to have a meeting to clarify some of the provisions, such a meeting could take place. We cannot, however, discuss the arrangement as such or the process of implementing its provisions”, he said.
“First of all, the process provides the signing of the arrangement, secondly, the approval by the general assemblies and, thirdly, the application by the Turkish Cypriot Federation to become a member of the CFA. We are not going to negotiate a change to the process, neither on the document”, Koutsokoumnis concluded.