Turkish handball team to play Cyprus on the island

NICOSIA (AFP) – The Cyprus Handball Association confirmed yesterday that Turkish club Uskudar will not enter the divided island for a European Cup match via the Turkish-held north, a demand which had threatened to scupper the match. It will be one of the few times during Cyprus’s 28-year division that a Greek-Cypriot team has come up against a Turkish side in any sport. The Turkish climbdown came after the Cyprus Handball Association said the women’s match between Uskudar and Latsia Nicosia, scheduled for Sunday, would not go ahead if the Turkish team came through the breakaway state in the north of Cyprus. Cyprus Handball Association President Charalambos Lottas received a fax from the European body yesterday confirming that a 21-member delegation of the Uskudar team would arrive for the game at Larnaca airport. «We welcome the Turkish side to Cyprus,» Lottas told reporters. He said the team would be staying at a hotel in south Nicosia from September 7-9. Uskudar had previously proposed to enter the internationally recognized Greek-Cypriot south through the UN-manned Ledra Palace checkpoint in Nicosia from the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot republic in the north of the island, which is recognized only by Turkey. The return leg of the match is scheduled for September 14 in Istanbul. Uskudar had also suggested playing both legs in Istanbul with all their visitors’ expenses paid. Sporting contact between Greek-Cypriot teams and Turkish sides is almost non-existent. Ironically, the men’s national handball teams of Turkey and Cyprus have been drawn to play each other in a European championship qualifying group and will meet here on January 2, 2003.

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