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Identifier 000419746
Title Football as an instrument of reunification in Cyprus
Alternative Title Το ποδόσφαιρο ως μέσο για την επίλυση του Κυπριακού προβλήματος
Author Λεκάκης, Νικόλαος
Thesis advisor Ξενάκης, Δημήτρης
Reviewer Houlihan Barrie
Παπαδάκης, Νίκος
Abstract The Greek-Cypriot (G/C) and Turkish-Cypriot (T/C) communities in Cyprus have been ruthlessly separated by Turkey’s military invasion of the island in 1974. The subsequent proclamation of the occupied land as the independent state of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which was recognized only by Turkey has placed the T/Cs into an international political exclusion. The T/C football Association (TCFA) and its member-clubs too are denied participation in international football matches. The sport’s international governing agency, FIFA, has attempted twice to end the TCFA’s international isolation through provisional football reunification agreements. The agreements require of TCFA to apply and become member of the G/C Football Association (CFA), which remains the sole representative of Cypriot football in international football governance and affairs. The two sides have attempted to resolve the problem, which has political ramifications. This thesis goes beyond ‘sport for peace’ programmes in divided societies and places the problem within an international relations (IR) framework, using mainly the lens of the neoclassical realist paradigm assisted by the neo-liberal approach. In this framework which combines sport, nationalism and IR, FIFA’s initiatives represent the signals sent to TRNC’s leaders, who need to take their turn to decipher them and endorse or reject the provisional football reunification agreements. Their decisions constitute in essence foreign policy outcomes because endorsement of the agreement would mean an end to TCFA’s isolation and a greater TRNC international visibility with accompanying hopes for political recognition as well. Also, the agreements and their effects might be interfering with TRNC’s strategic policies and plans for international political recognition. These opportunities appeared in a permissive environment where material resources were not required in order for TRNC’s leaders to respond it. Domestic level actors such as political parties and civil society organisations should play a role in influencing the leaders’ image of these opportunities. Following a comprehensive review of the literature, carving an appropriate conceptual framework and using the case study method, the thesis presents a historical account of the Cyprus Problem and the Football Problem. Then, relying on data from the Public Information Office (PIO), Turkish and T/C media reviews Department of the Cypriot government as well as other digital sources and semi-structured interviews, it traces the foreign policy outcomes of two football reunification initiatives by FIFA. The first initiative which emerged in 2008 was dealt with by a leader from the progressive left. Although with a positive image of the initiative, he did not endorse it, anticipating a forthcoming solution to the overall Cyprus problem, which never materialised. The second initiative followed in 2013 and was dealt with by an extreme nationalist leader who immediately treated it as a threat to TRNC’s national policy. The role of domestic state actors including political parties and civil society organisations was inept and incapable of influencing the leader’s decision. TRNC’s national security issue as well as Turkey’s strategic interests in the Eastern Mediterranean helped stall the football reunification process and hopes for a successful outcome are now very dim. The evidence from this case supports contentions by similar research that in many divided societies political reunification must precede reunification in sport.
Language English
Subject Cyprus
International relations
Διεθνείς σχέσεις
Issue date 2018-11-07
Collection   School/Department--School of Social Sciences--Department of Political Sciences--Doctoral theses
  Type of Work--Doctoral theses
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