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Turkish Cypriot football chief ready to talk with CFA

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The Cetinkaya football team that won the 1954 Cyprus Super cup

Cyprus Turkish Football Association (CTFA) Hasan Sertoglu on Tuesday denied reports that his association has applied to join the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

He said an application to join the AFC has been under preparation by the CTFA for two years, but that no paperwork has yet been submitted, and also called on the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) to enter talks to unite football in Cyprus.

If the Greek Cypriot side is sincere, I am ready to sit at the table,” he said, adding “we will take advantage of every opportunity which will pave the way for our youth” to join the international football community.

He complained that the CFA has made Turkish Cypriots “politically captive” by not facilitating the entry of Turkish Cypriots into internationally recognised competition and called on the world of football to “not remain a spectator to this any longer”.

“The Greek Cypriot side has it very good at the moment. Unfortunately, everything takes time,” he said.

He added that the CTFA is “taking initiatives at every stage”.

Additionally, he hit out at the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) when asked by a journalist about a meeting held between TFF chairman Mehmet Buyukeksi and world governing body Fifa chairman Gianni Infantino last week.

“While Fifa occasionally responds to us, the TFF does not even have the courtesy to respond to us. For this reason, I have no expectations at all from the current TFF management,” he said.

His comments come after CFA chairman George Koumas said he “will not accept” Turkish Cypriots’ attempts to join the international football community, following comments by Turkish parliament speaker Numan Kurtulmus regarding the CTFA’s attempts to join the AFC.

Koumas pointed to the 2013 Zurich Agreement signed between the CFA and CTFA, saying “they would be justified if this agreement did not exist.”

The agreement would have seen the former absorbed into the latter if fully applied, though the pair have acted as separate entities in the 11 years since its signing.

Koumas said he aimed to “end once again what the Turkish Cypriots are trying to do.”

Football in Cyprus has faced division for as long as the island’s political scene.

The CFA had initially been a bicommunal organisation, with Turkish Cypriot teams featuring in its competitions. Nicosia-based Turkish Cypriot club Cetinkaya even saw trophy-laden success in the early 1950s, going toe to toe with the likes of Apoel.

However, Turkish Cypriot teams were banned from playing at many Greek Cypriot-owned grounds in 1955, and thus set up their own association, the CTFA, with competitions separate from that of the CFA.

Previous efforts, including the 2013 Zurich agreement, had been made to bring the two communities’ football associations closer, but ended without result.

The CTFA remains a member of Conifa, an international football confederation of unrecognised countries and minority people groups.

Its women’s team is due to compete in the Conifa European championships in Norway in June.

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