Turkish Cypriot Football Federation criticizes UEFA for the exclusion of children from international football
The ongoing political tension between the divided parts of Cyprus has once again spilled over into the world of sports. Recently, the Turkish Cypriot Football Federation (KTFF) has voiced vehement opposition to the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) for the continued exclusion of Turkish Cypriot children from international football events.
According to a report by Kibris Postasi, KTFF President Hasan Sertoglu sent a letter to UEFA President Alexander Ceferin. Copies of the letter were also sent to the Union of International Football Associations (FIFA), the Turkish Football Federation (TFF), and the Cyprus Football Federation (KOP), ensuring that the grievance was well-communicated across all relevant football governing bodies.
In the letter, Sertoglu highlights the recent GRASSROOTS event in Cyprus, an initiative supported by UEFA and attended by prominent figures in world football. The exclusion of Turkish Cypriot children from this event underscored the enduring political embargo that continues to affect the youth in the island's northern part. The KTFF president clarified that their primary concern is not political but focused on every child's right to participate in the sport.
He emphasized, "Our problem is not politics. Our problem is that our youth and children should only play football." FIFA and UEFA have repeatedly raised these concerns in various meetings held in cities like Zurich and Nicosia. Yet, the issue remains unresolved, and Turkish Cypriot children continue to face exclusion.
Sertoglu further criticized the UEFA's announced project of "soccer balls for every school in Cyprus," questioning which part of Cyprus and which schools the UEFA refers to. He expressed the ongoing humiliation and exclusion Turkish Cypriot children faced because of the island's unresolved political issues.
Despite the previous efforts to bring attention to this issue, the KTFF lamented the lack of progress and vowed to intensify its advocacy. In the concluding remarks of the letter, Sertoglu called for an end to the unilateral exclusion and demanded corrective measures to ensure that Turkish Cypriot children can play football with their peers worldwide.
This incident underscores the intricate entanglement of politics and sports in the region, highlighting the need for diplomatic and humanitarian approaches to overcome decades-long divisions.