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Bicommunal football agreement faces ‘many risks’

By Peter Stevenson

‘MANY risks’ are posed by the agreement reached by the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) and its Turkish Cypriot equivalent, the TCFA, in Zurich earlier this month, lawyer and former CFA and Apoel chairman Christos Triantaphyllides said yesterday.

The landmark deal was signed by CFA chairman Costakis Koutsokoumnis and the TCFA chairman Hasan Sertoglu in the presence of FIFA President Sepp Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini.

“Football cannot and should not have been forced to accept a fait accompli before a complete solution is found to the Cyprus problem which is still at a very delicate stage,” Triantaphyllides said.

He explained that the agreement has already been ratified by the CFA and if it is also ratified by the TCFA, then this would mean that the TCFA would be officially recognised.

“If this goes ahead then foreign teams might come and play in the occupied areas against Turkish Cypriot teams. The next step, which I fear greatly, is if there is no solution to the Cyprus problem that Turkish Cypriot teams will take part in official FIFA and UEFA competitions,” he said.

Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris reported on Tuesday that Sertoglu told Turkish Cypriot KIBRIS TV that the TCFA does not approve of the latest initiatives taken by CFA officials and claimed they have launched an unexpected attack against the TCFA.

Sertoglu said the TCFA will hold an evaluation meeting regarding the agreement with their football clubs on Friday or Monday.

According to Sertoglu he was told by Turkey’s Minister of Youth and Sport Suat Kilic that the CTFA is an autonomous organisation and that for this reason, its decisions should be respected. He added that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also gave his support by saying that this provisional agreement will contribute to the solution process.

It was reported last week by the Ankara Anatolia news agency (AA) that Blatter expects serious steps to be taken in the near future for Turkish Cypriot football teams to be represented under the CFA’s flag.

This process is expected to lead Turkish Cypriot football clubs to be recognised officially by UEFA, AA reported.

Blatter, who spoke to the press following his visit to see Pope Francis at the Vatican, said, “We have the solution. We have been working on it for six years. The CFA has approved it so we are expecting approval from the Turkish Cypriot side, hopefully to be received by the end of this month.”

Blatter said the agreement will not lead to a united Cypriot national team, while Turkish and Greek football teams may be playing in a combined league in Cyprus.

On Saturday Kibris reported that Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu said that he does not accept the two federation’s unification.

“It is not possible to accept such unification,” he said. He argued that Sertoglu had told him that the text discussed in Cyprus was different than the text signed in Zurich. “I do not know whether these mistakes can be corrected in new meetings,” he said.

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