Divided for 39 years and trying to reconcile ever since then, the two parts of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, Greece Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), have come together again to find common ground, this time for the future of the island's football, signing on Tuesday an agreement for a single football team for the Mediterranean island.
Meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, in the presence of the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the Cyprus Turkish Football Federation (CTFA) and the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) sat down to discuss articles in an interim agreement on Cyprus football and to reach an agreement on the sport in Cyprus.
According to information released on FIFA's website, both sides agreed to unify their football teams by signing a provisional arrangement for the organization of football in Cyprus.
The agreement was signed by CFA President Costakis Koutsokoumnis and CTFA President Hasan Sertoğlu. FIFA President Sepp Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini also attended the signing ceremony.
Under the arrangement, the CTFA will become a member of the CFA as an association in accordance with the CFA's statutes and regulations. The CFA will be responsible for managing football issues in Cyprus. The KKTC and Greece Cyprus both agreed to set up a steering committee to work towards implementing the arrangement.
“Both the Cyprus Football Association and the Cyprus Turkish Football Association are today providing the whole world with an excellent example of how football can build bridges and bring people together after a long period of conflict. I would like to thank both associations and UEFA for their outstanding contribution to this milestone arrangement,” FIFA reported Blatter as saying.
FIFA says the arrangement aims to unify and facilitate the progress of the sport within the football communities on the island of Cyprus through a relationship based on trust, mutual respect and goodwill.
Turkish and Greek representatives can suspend the agreement if there is an article that runs contrary to their countries' interests. The agreement will only become valid if the general assemblies in both football federations ratify the text of the agreement.
In mid October, the two sides of the island issued simultaneous statements saying they had been invited by FIFA President Blatter to discuss and finalize a "provisional arrangement for football in Cyprus" which would be based on the FIFA and UEFA statutes.
The CFA is recognized by FIFA while the CTFA is not. The KKTC attended several tournaments for teams not recognized by FIFA. In 2006, the KKTC's football team won the unofficial FIFA World Cup in Hamburg, beating Zanzibar on penalties in the final.
Cyprus has been divided between the Greek Cypriot south and the Turkish Cypriot north since 1974, when Turkey sent troops to the island in the aftermath of a Greek-inspired coup that sought to unite the island with Greece. In 2004, a UN plan to reunite the island, backed by Turkey, collapsed because it was rejected by the Greek Cypriots in a referendum. Talks between Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders to reach an agreement on a reunification plan have failed to produce any breakthrough.