Today, I was going to write an article about why Fenerbahçe is unable to become champions, but since the league is already over and Galatasaray has become the champion, it didn’t seem logical to write about Fenerbahçe. Nevertheless, I still wanted to write about football and mention the distinguished team of our country, Omonia.
Omonia, which turned 75 on June 4, 2023, is the football club with the largest number of supporters on our island. Omonia’s lexical meaning is “unique” [Translator’s note: The Greek term ‘omonia’ could more accurately be defined as ‘unity’ rather than ‘unique’] and “harmony”… Those who named the team have both thought beautifully and found a nice name that refers to our societal weakness from years ago. Omonia, known as a sports club, is active not only in football but also in basketball, volleyball, and cycling. It’s a club whose supporters possess left-wing and socialist values, always advocate for social peace and brotherhood, have a lot to say about the solidarity of the two communities of Cyprus and never engage in racism. It is more like a civil society initiative rather than just a sports club. They did not fall into the trap of nationalism even in troubled times. Its political stance is certainly not its only characteristic. We should not forget that it’s the most successful team in Cyprus after APOEL.
Another characteristic of Omonia is that it has the broadest fan base among Turkish Cypriots. Because of this, they are accused of being a “Turkish Cypriot” team by right-wing Greek Cypriot fanatics. In fact, it couldn’t be more natural for the overwhelming majority of Turkish Cypriots to feel sympathy towards Omonia considering the values it symbolizes. In short, Omonia is composed of more positive elements than any other sports, political, cultural or social organization. The soft power they possess in the north, therefore, is higher than any other institution.
I attach importance to watching football matches as and when I have time to spare. Our special place where we sometimes meet and talk with Omonia fans and officials is the shop of our dear friend Andrea who holds high human values. Omonia and sometimes Fenerbahçe are among the main topics in Cyprus that we have pleasant conversations on, in the atmosphere created by Andreas with his special cigars. Because those who regularly meet up there feel sympathy towards Fenerbahçe as much as they do for Omonia.
Long ago, quite a few Turkish Cypriot footballers used to play and build their careers in clubs referred to as “Greek Cypriot teams”. Among them, there were some stars who won the hearts of the fans. During years of communal tension and conflict, some Turkish Cypriots played football under difficult conditions sweating in the jerseys of various teams in the Cyprus Football League. Nowadays, a young Turkish Cypriot has made it to Omonia’s A team. He is a young talent named Tahsin Özler, who was born in England but has been in Omonia’s football academy for the last five years. It seems like this 17-year-old, born in 2006, will make quite some noise in the future. There were debates about whether to include Tahsin Özler in the Cyprus National Team at some point and now he is expected to be on the team in Omonia’s match against Azerbaijan’s Gabala at the UEFA Conference League which is set to take place on July 27th. (I would like to remind you that Tahsin’s father, Halil Özler, is also known as an important football player in the history of Küçük Kaymaklı.)
Personally, I must say that I am always proud to attend Omonia’s matches and be among its fans, as it is an important local and national community for our country in every aspect, just as its name suggests. The most important reason for this is that the social messages conveyed by Omonia’s fans and their philosophy of approaching football give me hope for the future. I wish that other football clubs would follow Omonia’s path in sharing this universal philosophy with their fans. After all, sports, and especially football, becomes much more meaningful when it includes peace and solidarity. When clubs know how to touch people in a social sense and attach importance to valuing the “other,” they become invaluable beyond any material gain. I hope all clubs of our island and their fans will find the chance to be known for the same values attributed to this distinguished team – established in Nicosia in 1948, becoming a member of the Cyprus Football Association in 1953 – in its 75-year history.