By Angelos Anastasiou
CYPRUS FOOTBALL Association boss Costakis Koutsokoumnis has been assigned a mission by football’s world governing body FIFA to broker a football settlement between Israel and Palestine, the association said on Monday.
In a statement, the CFA announced that by virtue of a personal decision by FIFA’s head, Joseph Blatter, Koutsokoumnis has undertaken the task of starting contacts aimed at settling football-related issues between the conflicting parties.
The assignment is effective until the end of 2014. Until then, the CFA said, Koutsokoumnis will be holding top-level meetings with officials from the two associations.
The first such meeting was held on Tuesday in Palestine with officials from the Palestinian association, and on Wednesday Koutsokoumnis will be meeting with Israeli officials.
FIFA wants contacts between the sides to start immediately in an effort to provide proposals to address the serious football issues between the two associations.
In his capacity as member of FIFA’s National Associations Committee, Koutsokoumnis has undertaken various important missions in several countries in the past on FIFA’s instructions, said the CFA announcement.
Koutsokoumnis played a pivotal role in a November 2013 landmark temporary agreement in Zurich which would see the Turkish Cypriot football federation (KTTF) become a member of the CFA as an association in accordance with CFA rules.
The agreement also had the full support of President Nicos Anastasiades, who said at the time that the agreement was “a positive outcome that gave hope for the future”.
Despite coming under pressure from both sides, Koutsokoumnis and KTTF head Hasan Sertoglu have ploughed ahead with a series of confidence-building measures to enhance trust between the two, ahead of the Turkish Cypriot federation’s application to join the CFA.
In a speech in July, Blatter reportedly used Cyprus as a reference point, informing the FIFA Congress of the temporary agreement.
He referred specifically to the problems faced in Israel and Palestine, and Kosovo and Serbia.
“We are proud about what happened in Cyprus and the agreement reached. Cyprus is a country that is divided and through football, steps forward are being taken. The parties involved in Cyprus have approved this agreement and all we can do is applaud them,” Blatter told the Congress.
Blatter made it clear that FIFA does not get involved in the politics of countries but only concerns itself with football.
By Angelos Anastasiou