Press Releases

Embargo This! - 31 May 2006

Turkish Cypriot Footballers Reveal ‘Strip’ Poster to Highlight their 50 Year Ban from International Football

London, 31 May 2006: Turkish Cypriot footballers and human rights group Embargoed! today revealed their much anticipated 'Balls to Embargoes/Footballers Strip for Their Rights' poster against their fifty year ban from international matches and tournaments. The double-sided colour poster features players from London and North Cyprus stripped down to their bare essentials, their modesty covered by a banner with the campaign slogan “Balls to Embargoes!”, alongside a number of facts about life under the ban. The launch comes on the eve of the Germany World Cup, which Turkish Cypriots are barred from. A representative Turkish Cypriot team is currently in Germany to play in the FIFI Wild Cup tournament alongside five other teams from unrecognised nations.

Since 1955, Turkish Cypriots have been denied FIFA membership and as a result cannot play against any FIFA registered club or national side because of political problems on the island. Since 1984, even friendly matches are banned, with FIFA issuing fines for any club playing against a team from North Cyprus. Throughout this time, Greek Cypriot teams and players, who assert themselves as ‘the sole representatives of Cyprus’, have been able to play in international fixtures and tournaments.

It was this ongoing discrimination that motivated Yasin Kansu, a player for Cetinkaya TSK football club, to pose for the poster. Kansu, one of North Cyprus’ best players and leading goal scorer for the past few seasons, said, “Stripping off was a laugh, but there’s a serious point too. We Turkish Cypriots have been forced to live under embargoes for 42 years. We voted for a solution in Cyprus and still we can’t play football with the rest of the world!” He continues, ”In a few years, I will be retiring and if this situation continues, I will never get the chance to play against first class international opposition and know just how good I am.”

North Cyprus players who posed for the poster: Asilkan Sadikoglu, Erol Serbest, Fuat Pasa, Huseyin Adal, Salim Tayancli, Tekin Acikyildiz, and Yasin Kansu
UK players who posed for the poster: Atilla Osman, Hakan Hasan, Kerem Bashkal (formerly of Crystal Palace), Memet Nay, and Þevki Osman

A representative Turkish Cypriot team from North Cyprus has flown to Germany to take part in the FIFI Wild Cup involving five other unrecognized nations: Gibraltar, Greenland, hosts the Republic of Sankt Pauli (a port quarter in Hamburg), Tibet, and Zanzibar. The Turkish Cypriots are one of the favourites to lift the FIFI Cup.

Niyazi Okutan, President of North Cyprus’ governing football body, the Cyprus Turkish Football Association (CTFA), said, “We’re proud of the boys who stripped for our rights. Hopefully the poster will capture international attention and help pressure FIFA into ending their discrimination against us.” He added, “Although it’s not quite the same thing, taking part in FIFI and later this year, the VIVA World Cup has given our players a much needed boost. For years they had no motivation; now at least they have something to aim for.”

London based human rights group Embargoed! launched its ‘Balls to Embargoes’ football campaign in December 2005 in conjunction with the CTFA and its member clubs. The campaign is backed by the UK’s Turkish Community Football Federation and North Cyprus Sports Writers Association.

Notes to editors

About the photographs
These are the photos used for the double-sided ‘Balls to Embargoes’ poster.

About the posters
These can be purchased from Embargoed! for £5 sterling and will be available from its online shop from mid-June 2006 onwards. All proceeds will help fund the campaign.

Facts about the football embargoes – as used on the poster
• Essential North Cyprus football stats: 3 leagues, 48 football clubs with 96 teams, and 68 football pitches. Ataturk Stadium is the largest with a capacity of 28,000.

• Turkish Cypriots formed the Cyprus Turkish Football Association (CTFA) on 30 October 1955, following their expulsion from the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) earlier that year.

• The CTFA has never been admitted into FIFA, while the Greek Cypriot CFA was granted full membership in 1960. This is in direct contravention of the 1960 Cyprus Constitution, which states that both Turkish and Greek Cypriots have the right to their own separate sporting arrangements.

• Footballers from North Cyprus cannot play against ANY OTHER FIFA REGISTERED TEAM. This includes friendly and youth matches.

• In February 2006, a friendly match between a team from North Cyprus and Monaco State was banned. Seven months into the planning, the decision to ban the game occurred one week before it was due to take place.

• North Cyprus is set to host the first ever World Cup for NATIONS THAT OFFICIALLY DON’T EXIST. The N-F Board’s 16-team Viva World Cup tournament will take place in November 2006.

• North Cyprus is fanatical about football with 4,000 registered players of all ages – that’s 1 in 50 of the total population!

• Embargoes imposed by Greek Cypriots bar Turkish Cypriots and their clubs and federations from taking part in any international tournaments in all sports including football.

• In April 2005, the Greek Cypriot controlled Cyprus Football Association (CFA) prevented English football team Huddersfield Town AFC from playing a friendly match in North Cyprus.

• One of FIFA’s statutes states, ‘Discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or groups of people on account of ethnic origin, gender, language, religion, politics or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion’, yet FIFA imposes a ban on Turkish Cypriots!

• FIFA’s 50 year ban on Turkish Cypriot players has resulted in low pay, poor conditions and opportunities. Many generations of footballers have NEVER played against foreign opposition.

• In September 1998, FIFA fined German soccer team Bad Lippspinge, 20,000 US dollars for playing against Turkish Cypriot team Çetinkaya.

Embargoed! thanks go to:
• All the footballers in London and North Cyprus who auditioned and posed for the poster
• Everyone at the Cyprus Turkish Football Association, especially President Niyazi Okutan and Head of External Relations Cengiz Uzun.
• Embargoed! team Nikki Newhouse North Cyprus Rep (currently on maternity leave) and volunteers North Cyprus – Ruby James & Gengiz Riza; London – Suzan Nuri, Mumune Kok, Seven Suphi & Sinem Suphi
• Others: Kibris newspaper’s Omac Basat ve Yucel Hatay (facts, contacts), Harun Ucar and Hasan Ozerman (respectively North Cyprus and London photography), Oya Gurel (translations), Cyprus Today team and BRT’s Huseyin Kral (media/jury), Levent College (Nicosia auditions), Jasmine Court (hosting first press conference), North Cyprus Sports Writers Association, TRNC Ministry of Youth and Sports, the UK Turkish Community Football Federation, and many others…thanks to everyone for making the 'Balls, poster campaign get off to a successful start!

About Embargoed! –
Embargoed! is an independent human rights group campaigning for the immediate and unconditional end to all embargoes against North Cyprus. The group was launched on 4 March 2005 and aims to play an active role in raising awareness about the isolation of North Cyprus and lobbying world leaders and institutions to restore the fundamental political, economic and social rights of Turkish Cypriots.

Contact Embargoed!:
• Telephone/fax: + 44 (0)20 8279 8561
• Email:;
• Post: Embargoed! Suite 205, 14 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 1JY

Press Enquiries: Ms. Ýpek Özerim:
T: +44 (0)777 623 0466 / +90 533 876 3166 E:

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