UNDER the slogan ‘Football Remembers’ the British High Commission in Nicosia yesterday organised a friendly football match marking a Christmas Day spontaneous ceasefire and a historic football match in 1914, during World War I.
Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots braved the rainy weather and joined forces against the ‘international’ team which consisted mainly of UN personnel, at a football pitch in the buffer zone, close to the Ledra Palace checkpoint.
The Cypriot team consisted of Greek and Turkish Cypriot negotiators Andreas Mavroyiannis and Ergun Olgun, Semsi Oyuncu, Hasan Sencar, Sertac Yalcin, Huseyin Ekmekci, Ibrahim Diran, Michael Seraphim, Andreas Koulendis, Lambros Lambrou, Mustafa Zurnacilar, Kemal Koseoglu, Huseyin Ercen, Mehmet Kandilli, Halil Cimendag and Ertan Aligullu.
“We are remembering today 100 years ago when during the worst conflict the world had at that time seen, there was a pause in hostilities and people on both sides, spoke to each other, exchanged gifts and on occasion played football,” said British High Commissioner Ric Todd opening the event.
This is, we feel, he added, “a very important symbol in the world today, when no matter what conflict we may find there is always a scope for optimism and for hope and the human spirit to come together no matter how bad the circumstances may be.”
Veteran Cypriot football players Andreas Siantris (APOEL) and Sevim Ebeoglu (AEL) were honoured at the end of the football match.
The two men, who both played wearing number 10 in their respective teams at a time when football was united in Cyprus are good friends and enjoyed watching the match together and remembering old times.
During half time the two negotiators as well as foreign diplomats took part in a penalty shoot out.
The international team won the match by 5 – 2.