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Society

Building Bridges: Soccer Diplomacy in Divided Cyprus

March 20, 2019

NICOSIA (AP) — An initiative to build bridges between the Greek and Turkish speaking communities of ethnically split Cyprus faltered after the leader of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots skipped a soccer match over a dispute of the game’s location.

Mustafa Akinci said Tuesday he couldn’t attend because the small stadium in the mixed village of Pyla was situated within the jurisdiction of Cyprus’ internationally recognized, Greek Cypriot-run government.

He said that meant the element of evenhandedness was lacking.

Despite this, hundreds of people from both communities watched the game between Nea Salamina and Magusa Turk Gucu, and to also catch a glimpse of retired Ivorian football star Didier Drogba who attended as vice president of the Monaco-based group Peace and Sport, an organizer of the event.

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