Saturday, 5 December 2009

New FIFA deal for Kosovo

This story is also on Play The Game

A deal to ensure that Kosovan clubs are compensated properly when players sign for foreign sides should be rubber-stamped this Friday (December 4) at FIFA’s executive committee meeting in Cape Town, South Africa.

Last week, Football Association of Kosovo president Fadil Vokrri and general secretary Eroll Salihu traveled to Zurich to show FIFA documents that proved the FFK was a member of the old Yugoslavian association just like other states that broke away and secured independence, such as Croatia and Slovenia.
Having established this with FIFA, the FFK expect an international players’ certificate for Kosovan players to be agreed in Cape Town.

“For the past two decades Kosovar players have been taken or have moved about without any authorization whatsoever,” says Edmond Rugova, the former manager of the Kosovan national team and now chief executive of the country’s biggest club, FC Prishtina.

“If FIFA writes these certificates for Kosovar players into law then the players, the clubs and the FA's would be protected. Kosovar clubs will be able to demand signing on fees just like any other club, which so far hasn't been the case.”

At last week’s meeting in Zurich, the FFK also handed over to FIFA a list of players who have been signed by foreign clubs, who did not pay any fee to their Kosovan clubs.

Rugova explains: “Players have been taken from FC Prishtina and other clubs for nothing before. A few years ago FC Prishtina players like Armend Dallku and Debatik Curri who now play for FC Poltava [in the] Ukraine and represent Albania internationally were taken without authorization or compensation. That practice continues to this day, except FC Prishtina that has been able to put an end to it by demanding that the laws for player transfer are respected.”

Last year, FC Prishtina secured transfer fees for the first time when Swiss clubs FC Schaffhausen and Winterthur signed Visar Berisha and Shqipron Skeraj respectively but this was a one-off.

“FC Prishtina was compensated properly [and] is the only club in Kosovo that has been able to accomplish this,” says Rugova. “I believe FIFA's decision to take up on this issue and hopefully legitimize it is a step in the right direction before [the FFK] becomes a full member of FIFA and UEFA.”

Greater political recognition is needed before that can be secured but the FFK has already sealed a deal to take advantage of the lucrative commercial opportunities that will come with full membership and the international fixtures in the World Cup and European championship qualifying rounds that come with that.

The FFK has signed a strategic alliance with the Swiss-based Kentaro Group, who will market TV, media and sponsorship rights for Kosovan football in return for helping the FFK develop a more professional structure.

“As soon as Kosovo is recognised by the European Union and the United Nations as an independent state, there will no longer be any obstacle to it becoming a member of FIFA and UEFA,” said FFK president Fadil Vokkri. “Together with Kentaro, we will establish Kosovan football.”

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