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Second Greek Cypriot to play for team in the north

By Constantinos Psillides

Turkish Cypriot football club Degirmenlik has announced the signing of a second Greek Cypriot player, despite heated reaction sparked by the signing of Dimitris Vassiliou last month.

Vassiliou was heavily criticised for his decision to be the first Greek Cypriot to play for a Turkish Cypriot team since 1955 and even received death threats. The reaction even prompted the 35-year-old’s father to step forward and publicly defend his son’s decision to sign for Degirmenlik. Since signing up for the team Vassiliou, a father of two,  lost his job coaching his local side, Omonoia Aradippou’s Under-15s and said he has also been threatened with the possibility of a transfer to a warehouse position by his superiors at the semi-state owned Electricity Authority.

Argiris Christofi, the second Greek Cypriot player to be signed by a Turkish Cypriot football team, was not deterred by the backlash.

“This is my life and I do what I want with it,” said Christofi, according to a report run by Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen, adding that he didn’t think that playing for a Turkish Cypriot team would cause him any problem.

“I believe that football has the power to bring peace to the world,” added Christofi.

Christofi joined the team’s training on Thursday, along with Vassiliou, who is expected to make his debut on Saturday.

The Cyprus Turkish Football Association (CFTA) and the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) signed an agreement in 2013, paving the way for the reunification of football on the island. Almost a year on, both sides appear to be waiting for each other to ratify the agreement.

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.

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.

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.


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