Thursday, 13 December 2012

Greek Cypriots to visit the North

Costakis Koutsokoumnis, the chairman of the Cypriot Football Association (CFA), will visit his counterpart at the North Cyprus football association, the CTFA, Hasan Sertoğlu (pictured) in Turkish occupied Nicosia for the very first time.

The meting between the two sides at the CTFA headquarters on January 17 2013 represents a major step forward in relations between the two sides, who met on December 11 at the CFA headquarters in Nicosia on December 11.

After the December 11 talks, Sertoğlu said: "The island has suffered thanks to politicians and our focus is only on football, not on politics. I believe that with good will we can find a resolution to this problem."

The two sides have been split since the Turkish clubs went off to form the CTFA in 1955, but Koutsokoumnis said: "The footballing community of Cyprus wants a solution to the ‘football’ problem."

The CFA chairman also said that he hoped an initial plan could be agreed between the two sides within two months.

What solution can be proposed remains to be seen as the game in the Greek dominated south of the island is far more commercially developed. Apoel were quarter-finalists in last season's Champions League - an accomplishment that earned the Cyrpiot club more than

€18 million in prize money.

Clubs in Turkish Cyprus are semi-professional at best and big games rarely draw crowds of more than a couple of thousand. 

Many Northern Cypriot fans are more interested in the big Istanbul clubs playing in the Turkish Super Lig, but the potential for larger crowds in the north was demonstrated recently when AEL Limassol hosted Fenerbahçe in a Europa League game in Nicosia.

All of Fenerbahçe's ticket allocation was taken up by fans from Northern Cyprus. More than 1,400 Northern Cypriots travelled across the Green Line that separates the two communities to watch the game in Greek Nicosia (pictured below).

A united league or a Cypriot league featuring one or two Northern Cypriot sides could stimulate similar interest as the two sides show more ability to reach a compromise in a few months than their political counterparts have managed in years.

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