Greek Cypriot footballer labelled traitor for joining Turkish Cypriot team

Dimitris Vasiliou was prevented from attending the match by Greek Cypriot far-right fanatics who had surrounded his home in the Greek Cypriot-controlled southern Cypurs.

Greek Cypriot footballer labelled traitor for joining Turkish Cypriot team

World Bulletin / News Desk

A Greek Cypriot footballer has been branded a traitor for joining a Turkish Cypriot team last week.

Dimitris Vasiliou, who was due to debut for Turkish Cypriot first division side Degermenlik on Saturday against Hamitkoy, was prevented from attending the match by Greek Cypriot far-right fanatics who had surrounded his home in the Greek Cypriot-controlled southern Cypurs.

Police had rushed to the scene to protect the player, but for his own safety they did not allow him to step foot outside of his home, T-Vine reported.

Greek Cypriot nationalists wasted no time in slamming the player on social media as soon as news broke that he had signed for the Turkish Cypriot club, making threats against him and labelling him a “traitor”.

Talking to Greek Cypriot media, Vasiliou said "My sole purpose is football not politics. I want to be a role model for the island’s youth," rejecting the accusations against him.

However, Vasiliou also reportedly said he would not have agreed to the transfer deal if he had known this would be the likely reaction, expressing uncertainty over what he will do next with his career.

Degermenlik football club chairman Emirali Oztuccar told Turkish daily newspaper Milliyet “The threats by Greek Cypriots are not right. Our player’s only aim is to play football. We believe our player will be in the team line-up next week.”

The matter was then taken up by Turkish Cypriot Football Association (KTFF) head Hasan Sertoglu who tried to bring it up with his Greek Cypriot counterpart Kostakis Kutsokumnis, but has thus far failed to make contact with him.

DEADLOCK

Last year, KTFF signed a deal with the Greek Cypriot Football Federation (KOP) under the supervision of UEFA and FIFA officials. The deal brought the KTFF under the KOP umbrella, which would lift the isolation of Turkish Cypriot football clubs and players, allowing them to play in official UEFA and FIFA competitions.

The agreement signed in Zurich between the two football federations was also confirmed by 43 clubs with voting powers in the General Council of the TRNC Football Federation.

Under the agreement, the KTFF will conform to KOP rules and regulations in return for equal representation in the federation's board.

However, recently talks between the two football federations have reached a deadlock, with KTFF head Sertoglu calling for FIFA and UEFA’s assistance to help iron out differences.

“We have sent a letter to FIFA and UEFA calling on them to undertake their duties [by facilitating the talks between the two federations],” Sertoglu was quoted saying by T-Vine, adding that “KOP is not happy with this letter."

EMBARGOES

Due to international embargoes on the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) - which is not recognized by any country except for Turkey - the Turkish Cypriot national football team has only been able to play in non-official international tournaments like the FIFI Wild Cup against other non-official or unrecognized teams like Greenland, Tibet, Gibraltar, Iraqi Kurdistan and Crimea.

League teams have not been able to host any official matches with foreign clubs on its soil, nor have they been able to participate in official matches abroad.

Turkish Cypriots footballers in the past, like Mustafa Izzet and Colin Kazim Richards, have been given the opportunity to play for Turkey. Those who hold other passports have also represented other countries in sporting events, like Fatima Whitbread, who won a gold medal for Great Britain in the 1984 Olympic.

Turkish Cypriots who hold E.U. passports obtained from the Greek Cypriot government in the south of the island are legally allowed to represent Cyprus in the international arena, but most prefer not to choose that option for a number of reasons.

While Turkish Cypriot Meliz Redif was able to represent Turkey in the 2012 Olympics, those who applied to participate under the Olympic flag had their pleas rejected.

In 2007, English football team Luton Town arranged to play a friendly match in the TRNC against local team Cetinkaya, but was forced to cancel the match after pressure from the Greek Cypriot government.  

Last Mod: 29 Eylül 2014, 14:17
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