By Evie Andreou
A MISSING document dated some 60 years ago is delaying the much-anticipated reunification of the island’s two football bodies, remaining divided since the 1974 war.
In a letter to world football body FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke in March, the chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Football Association (TCFA) Hasan Sertoglu said they were applying to join the ranks of the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) to resolve two main issues, that Turkish Cypriot football clubs are denied transfer fees for players signed by Turkish clubs – their only shot at professional football, and that players of Turkish Cypriot clubs cannot be transferred to other clubs internationally, because their association is not recognised.
But the original 1955 document that proves the legal entity of the TCFA has gone missing, prompting CFA boss Costas Koutsokoumnis to criticise on social media comments wrongly attributed to Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.
Koutsokoumnis later posted on his Facebook page a statement saying that “Akinci has no idea about what is going on” after he was informed that the comments appeared in the Turkish Cypriot newspaper Gunes, without elaborating on the context. Daily Politis, however, reported that Akinci’s office denied making any comments on the issue on Wednesday.
“The CFA does not accept in its ranks groups of people without any substantial status, but legal entities duly registered under the law on associations and clubs with the (Interior) ministry that issues IDs and passports,” Koutsokoumnis said on Facebook when grilled by commentators on why he insisted on the importance of the lost document.
In response, Turkish studies lecturer Dr Sotos Ktoris said that the report in question was in fact an opinion piece, and had not referred to any comments made by Akinci but it actually criticised the Turkish Cypriot leader for supporting the TCFA joining the CFA.
The online arguments have raised the issue of the delay in the procedure.
According to the Greek Cypriot side, for the TCFA to join the CFA, it should first be registered as an association at the Republic of Cyprus. However, the TCFA, which recently celebrated its 60th anniversary, insists they are a registered association since 1955, hence their registration should have been recognised automatically upon establishment of the republic in 1960.
Sertoglu told Turkish Cypriot media last month that the procedure was delayed, because the 1955 document is nowhere to be found.
Koutsokoumnis, who said that the CFA tried to help the TCFA find the specific document without any success, insists that without it the procedure cannot continue.
Asked by another commentator why doesn’t the TCFA just register anew to solve the problem, Koutsokoumnis responded that it was an option given to the TCFA but that they refused.
Ktoris said that in the correspondence between the CFA and FIFA between 1957 and 1974, there are many references to the TCFA.
“It is beyond understanding why we ask for the specific document for the procedure to continue. We are losing the forest for a tree,” Ktoris told the Cyprus Mail.
“If I’m asked today, I will declare that such an association (TCFA) exists. But it is another thing saying that it exists and it organises football leagues, than (saying it has) legal entity,” Koutsokoumnis said.
He was quoted by Politis as saying that his relations with Sertoglu are excellent and that what bothers him is political interference in the whole matter.
The move to unite the two football bodies was met with strong reaction from conservative circles on both sides of the divide. In the north, some politicians had pushed for the TCFA to join the Turkish Football Association instead.