Greek Cypriot first to play for Turkish-Cypriot side in 60 years
35-year-old has been the target of abuse by right-wing Greek Cypriots who objected to the transfer.
World Bulletin/News Desk
A soccer player became the first Greek Cypriot to turn out for a Turkish-Cypriot club in almost 60 years on Saturday.
Demetris Vassiliou played the last twenty minutes for second-tier Turkish-Cypriot side Degirmenlik in a hard fought 2-1 victory against rivals Duzkaya.
He came on with the scores level at 1-1 to the applause of all 200 spectators who were in attendance.
"My team mates, the opposition, the crowd and even the match officials were superb. That was my only real reservation for playing in the north
, the reaction of the locals, but they were all very supportive -- even the ref at the final whistle told me 'Welcome!'," Vassiliou told Reuters.
Since joining Degirmenlik last month, the 35-year-old has been the target of abuse by right-wing Greek Cypriots who objected to the transfer.
The Turkish-Cypriot north, an enclave which is officially recognised only by Turkey, was carved up after a Greek-inspired coup and Turkey's intervention in 1974.
Turkish Cypriot clubs cannot presently play
in international fixtures because of the ongoing stalemate on the divided island.
The Cyprus Football Association (CFA) and the Cyprus Turkish Football Association (CTFA) signed a provisional agreement in November last year in which both sides agreed in principle that the CTFA would become a member of the CFA after a split in 1954.
Vassiliou has since been joined by a second Greek Cypriot at Degirmenlik, but 29-year-old Argiris Christophi was not available to play in Saturday's match.
Christophi and Vassiliou were former team mates in the Greek-Cypriot league and the former has been vocally defiant following his transfer.
Greek Cypriot first to play for Turkish-Cypriot side in 60 years | Cyprus | Worldbulletin News