NICOSIA: The president of the Cyprus Cyprus Football Association will hold a first formal meeting in the Turkish-controlled north of the island in the new year with his counterpart writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

This follows talks this week in Nicosia between Hasan Sertoglu and Kostakis Koutsokoumnis, president of the Turkish Cypriot Football Federation. Both men confirmed an intention to unify football on the politically-divided island.

Koutsokoumnis, acknowledging a will for a solution from the island’s football community, said: “We had a very pleasant and very interesting first official meeting. We need to move quickly, we think the ground is right to find a solution for the unification of football on the island and I am certain that both sides are determined to solve this problem that exists since 1955.”

The two sides agreed to meet again on the January 17 at the offices of the Turkish Cypriot Federation in the island’s northern Turkish occupied areas.

Koutsokoumnis added: “Hopefully we may have an initial result within the next two months. But we will not elaborate.”

Hasan Sertoglu indicated a willingness to reach a solution which put the island’s long-standing political problems to one side. He said: “Everyone expects a solution from us. I have a strong belief that we will not disappoint anyone.”

The Cyprus Football Association was established in 1934 by six Greek Cypriot clubs and two Turkish Cypriot clubs. Greek and Turkish Cypriot clubs played together in an all-Island league until 1955. In 1948, the Cyprus Football Association became a member of FIFA and in 1962 a member of UEFA.

In 1955 during the anti-colonial struggle that saw tension between the two communities in the island to increase and following a decision of CFA to temporarily suspend the participation of Turkish Cypriot clubs in its competitions in order to avoid clashes in the stadiums, the Turkish Cypriot clubs decided to form their own football federation and to organize separate competitions.

Since then Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot clubs have not played together.

Cyprus has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion. UN-led efforts to reunite the country have so far failed to yield results.