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Turkish Cypriot fans complain of discrimination ahead of AEK-Fenerbahce game

Football fans at Aek arena/photo: Christos Theodorides

Turkish Cypriot football fans who have bought tickets for the Europa League game between AEK Larnaca and Fenerbahce on Thursday have complained that they will not be able to enter the AEK arena because they do not have fan cards issued by the Cyprus Sports Organisation (Koa).

Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kibris said that around 200 Fenerbahce fans living in the north, who have bought tickets for the game worth €60 each, will not be allowed to enter the stadium, calling it a “shock decision”.
But spokesman for Aek Kyriacos Demetriou insisted that they have agreed with Fenerbahce to make 600 tickets available to Turkish Cypriots, who will be crossing from the north for the match, adding to the confusion.

But spokesman for Aek Kyriacos Demetriou insisted that they have agreed with Fenerbahce to make 600 tickets available to Turkish Cypriots, who will be crossing from the north for the match, adding to the confusion.

Kibris cited the ‘Movement for a Solution to the Problem of Mixed Marriage’, an organised group that explained the issue on their Facebook page.

“We have learned that (Turkish Cypriot) individuals who have not obtained the citizenship of the Republic of Cyprus will not be able to attend the AEK Larnaca v Fenerbahce match,” the group said.

“How long will even the simplest rights of these people continue to be illegally abused?”

The post added that Turkish Cypriots who are not citizens of the Republic were informed that they need to get a Koa-issued fan card to enter the grounds.

“However, on Wednesday the fan cards previously received by these individuals have also been cancelled.”

“It is not known on what legal basis the fan cards of these individuals, who were able to attend last week’s Omonia v Manchester United match, were cancelled. And why is it that the criteria of a Republic of Cyprus citizenship was not required for British citizens who attended this match?

“Imagine that you can pass through the crossing, you can go up to the front entrance of the stadium where the match will be held, but you can’t watch the match,” the group said, adding that Uefa statutes provide that a key objective is to promote football throughout Europe “in a spirit of peace, understanding, fair play and without discrimination of any kind.”

The president of the Fenerbahce fan club Toikan Ozdamar said that, in order to obtain a fan card, people need to have a valid ID released by the Republic.

Permanent residents of Cyprus are also allowed to obtain a fan card in order to gain access to sporting events.

“However, only last week we saw UK fans without a fan card at GSP Stadium in Nicosia for the Omonia v Manchester United match. They had their own away section,” he said.

“Did the authorities ask them for fan cards? Can’t the same practice be applied to Fenerbahce fans by sitting them in a separate sector as well?”

Later on Wednesday, Koa replied to the complaints raised by the Turkish Cypriot fans explaining that foreign fans without a Cypriot fan card are only allowed to enter sporting venues for official matches and competitions when the visiting team informs Koa about their wish to bring organised fans.

“In that case, the visiting team is required to provide a list of names of their fans, who will be allocated a special sector in the venue,” Koa said.

“This is not just applicable to the game between Aek and Fenerbahce, but to all European matches involving Cypriot teams.”

The ‘Movement for a Solution to the Problem of Mixed Marriage’ cited a Uefa’s Article 45.04 on racism stating the ‘match organiser and participating associations or clubs must implement and apply Uefa’s ten-point plan on racism’.

“We condemn this behaviour, which has no legal basis, and call on the necessary authorities to act together to prevent such incidents from occurring,” the Facebook post concluded.

Meanwhile, police announced later in the day that they would be taking increased security measures ahead of the match.

CNA also reported that the Fenerbahce team will be staying at a hotel in Larnaca, which will also have security.

Police spokesman Christos Andreou said that they are taking all the necessary measures. He said over 200 officers will be at the arena to guide traffic.

Commenting on the issue of the fans, Andreou said that Turkish passport holding fans trying to cross from the north to the state-controlled areas will also not be permitted.





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