‘Cancellation of match a Pyrrhic victory for Greek Cyprus’

Friday, July 13 2007 @ 11:11 am UTC

A friendly football match between English League One side Luton Town FC and a Turkish Cypriot team, scheduled to be played on Wednesday evening, was eventually called off, with objections from Greek Cypriots dampening the good spirits of both sides. "Who won on this path is actually the loser. This is a Pyrrhic victory for them (the Greek Cypriots)," Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer said late on Wednesday, in an apparent reference to the third century B.C. victory of King Pyrrhus over Roman forces, which devastated his campaign.

If it had taken place as planned, the match would have seen Luton Town become the first English club to play a team from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC). But at the planned kick-off time of 1800GMT, Luton players took to the pitch and carried out a private trained session. They were followed by Çetinkaya, the 2007 KKTC league champion, whose players also carried out a private training session.

Soyer and Niyazi Okutan, head of the Turkish Cypriot Football Federation, were also there. Speaking to reporters near the pitch, Soyer said "Greek Cypriot fanaticism" eventually led to calling-off of the match, referring to the fact that the Cyprus Football Association lodged complaints with the English Football Association, European football's governing body UEFA and FIFA that the game was "illegal."

Later the English Football Association asked Luton Town to cancel the game after they were informed that Çetinkaya was not a member of either UEFA or FIFA and that the Turkish Cypriot team had failed to seek permission from the Cyprus Football Association for the game.

"This is not a victory. They have displayed an indicator of their fanaticism and frivolous manner," Soyer said, in remarks critical of the Greek Cypriot approach. "A die-hard and hegemonic stance, which doesn't want to give the right to live to the Turkish Cypriots, once more showed itself in front of the world's public," he added, while noting appreciation for Luton Town for taking the risk of traveling to the internationally isolated KKTC.

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