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CFA boss censured for wearing shirt with Turkish flag (Updated)

Koutsokoumnis seated second from left

Cyprus football association (CFA) boss Costakis Koutsokoumnis has sparked outrage after taking part in a friendly match in Istanbul wearing a uniform bearing the Turkish flag.

He was also censured for agreeing to take part in meeting in a country that did not recognise the Republic of Cyprus.

A photograph of the team, including Koutsokoumnis, appeared on the internet on Saturday, prompting heavy criticism on social media.

The match was played during the regional meeting of football associations that took place in Istanbul on Saturday, hosted by the Turkish Football Federation (TFF)

According to the TFF, the meeting was attended by the associations of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia and Slovenia.

Koutsokomnis’ action was heavily criticised on social media over the weekend, but it seems that the outcry was gathering pace on Monday.

The government issued a statement stressing that sensitivities must be respected under the current circumstances.

Despite having nothing to do with political decisions of the government or political activities in general, but those of an independent sports organisation “the government believes the actions of any federation or clubs or their representatives, must not disregard Greek Cypriot sensitivities, based on the current state of affairs; especially when they represent Cyprus abroad.”

Top flight side Anorthosis Famagusta condemned the act on Monday and expressed “surprise and sadness” at seeing the CFA chairman displaying the Turkish flag.

“We understand the need for the CFA chairman to represent the association, and Cyprus, in international fora, but we wonder whether Mr. Koutsokoumnis realises that he represents a country with 37 per cent of its territory under occupation, after a barbaric Turkish invasion (in 1974),” Anorthosis said.

The club called on the CFA boss to assume the responsibility for his actions.

Champions APOEL of Nicosia also condemned the act through its official Twitter account.

In a bloodstained and wounded country, the star and crescent on the chest is a disgrace no matter how you see it, APOEL tweeted on Monday.

Omonia Nicosia spokesman Andreas Demetriou said from the moment the island was under Turkish occupation, “we must be extra careful not to provoke our people’s sensitivities.”

On his Facebook page, Koutsokoumnis reportedly defended his action saying it was a statement “to the Turks that their symbols do not touch me; Contempt.”

If he had tried to avoid wearing the shirt, which everyone else wore, it would have meant lending it importance that it did not have and respect it certainly did not deserve, Koutsokoumnis said.

By doing so, he added, he was emphasising the Greeks’ superiority and freedom “in an insignificant friendly game between the chairmen of the federations.” His action startled the Turks, he said, because they could never be free or superior.

Organised supporters also condemned the act, as well as the fact that Koutsokoumnis had accepted to represent the “Greek Cypriot administration of south Cyprus” a term used by Turkey to describe the Republic of Cyprus.

Organised supporters asked for his resignation. APOEL fans described the whole affair as an act of “high treason” and demanded his resignation.

“We demand from the APOEL administration to withdraw its confidence to Mr. Koutsokoumnis and also ask for his immediate resignation,” a statement said.

Their Nicosia rivals of Omonia said they had no intention to bother with the matter until they read Koutsokoumnis’ “stupid” statement.

“He tries to justify the unjustifiable as regards the shirt, without however, responding to the fact that he participated in the meeting as the representative of the Greek Cypriot administration of south Cyprus and not the Cyprus Football Association,” a statement said.

As supporters of Omonia Nicosia, we consider his act recognition of the Turkish occupation and call on him to resign.

As expected, political parties also entered the fray.

EDEK describe the act as an “insult to the cultural principles and values he supposedly stands for.”

“We expected Mr Koutsokoumnis’ public apology and immediate resignation,” the party said.

 

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