Trouble for Greek-Turkish soccer bid

ANKARA (AP) – What to do about Cyprus has divided Turkey and Greece for decades. Now the issue threatens to jeopardize a joint Turkish-Greek bid to host the 2008 European soccer championships. While sports issues have in the past helped both countries to improve tense relations, this time, the political stalemate over Cyprus could end up sabotaging the soccer bid. At a Cabinet meeting Monday, Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit and Deputy Premier Devlet Bahceli seriously questioned the joint bid, the daily Milliyet reported. «Greece is sidelining the Turkish-Cypriot republic. This will be a problem during the organization,» Milliyet quoted Ecevit as saying. The breakaway Turkish-Cypriot republic is only recognized by Turkey and is not likely to be included in the championships as it is not a member of UEFA, European soccer’s governing body. Turkish leaders are apparently concerned with the diplomatic consequences of the tournament. The joint bid is expected to be discussed at a Cabinet meeting next week. Ecevit’s office would not comment on the report. UEFA must formally receive the bid by May 31. The venue for the 2003 championships will be announced in December. Other countries interested in hosting the event include Finland, Switzerland, Russia, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

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