Anastasiades and Akinci to attend bicommunal ‘Friendly Football Day’ on March 19

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will attend a bicommunal “Friendly Football Day” that will take place on March 19 in the bicommunal village of Pyla, in Larnaca District.

A press release issued on Thursday said that, as part of Peace and Sport’s ongoing efforts to use sport as a tool for diplomacy and dialogue around the world, the organization will hold the bicommunal “Friendly Football Day” in partnership with the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation and with the support of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

The event will also attended by Peace and Sport President and FounderJoël Bouzou, Vice President and football legend Didier Drogba, and Stelios Philanthropic Foundation Founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou. The “Friendly Football Day” will gather in the bi-communal village of Pyla athletes, families, diplomats and children to promote dialogue, understanding and friendship through sport.

The highlight of the day will be a friendly football match between the Greek Cypriot football team Nea Salamina Ammochostou FC and the Turkish Cypriot Magusa Türk Gücü FC. The event, organized with the support of the European Commission, the European Parliament and Eleven Campaign, will be marked by the launching of the worldwide digital campaign #WhiteCard, cultural activities and football and karate Sport Simple workshops lead by Champion for Peace and three-time Karate World Champion Laurence Fischer, the press release said.

Peace and Sport President and Founder, Joël Bouzou, said that “we are very excited to organize the `Friendly Football Day` because it will bring together Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot teams, fans, families and children. This event will also demonstrate the diplomatic power of sport bringing high-level leaders and diplomats for dialogue and cooperation. The universality and neutrality of sport can help to forge ties between divided communities”.

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, Founder of Stelios Philanthropic Foundation, said “we are glad to partner with Peace and Sport for this historic event promoting lasting peace and dialogue on the island of Cyprus. We believe that sport can bring people together and we offer bi-communal awards to teams comprising one Turkish Cypriot and one Greek Cypriot. This Friendly Football Day will be the opportunity to promote respect and cooperation through sport.”

Cyprus has been divided since the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974. Since 1955, Greek Cypriot teams and Turkish Cypriot teams play in separate competitions. In March 2005, however, Nea Salamina and Yeni Mosque teams played together in Famagusta. This upcoming friendly football match will be the second of the kind in 64 years, gathering fans from both communities around the positive values of football.

According to the press release, Peace and Sport is actively engaged in the promotion of sport diplomacy events. Last year, the organization helped to bring together North Korea and South Korea athletes in mixed teams at Liebherr 2018 World Team Table Tennis Championship and the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

source: CNA