Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Kosovo: at last....

After years of obstruction from UEFA and its president Michel Platini, FIFA have over-ruled the European body and approved Kosovo's long-running attempt to play international friendlies. At the bottom of a news release on today's FIFA executive committee meeting a brief statement simply reads: "the Executive Committee has given its approval for FIFA member associations to play friendly matches with the Football Federation of Kosovo in accordance with art. 79 of the FIFA Statutes." 

Although FIFA tentatively allowed the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus to play a handful of friendlies in the 1970s after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the setting up of the breakaway TRNC, which remains largely unrecognised, the decision to allow Kosovo to play friendlies is of far greater importance.

The TRNC only played a handful of low-key friendlies that did not continue after a declaration of independence, whereas Kosovo's independence has been recognised by 92 other nations including many in western Europe, and FIFA's decision now opens the way for the Kosovars to play matches against the 208 full members of the world body.

UEFA and FIFA have previously agreed that Kosovan players who have switched nationality in order to play at international level, such as Fiorentina's Valon Behrami, who plays for Switzerland, and Lorik Cana of Lazio and Albania, can turn out for a recognised Kosovan team.

Switzerland, in particular, could suffer as Frederic Veseli - signed at the start of 2012 by Manchester United - and Bayern Munich's new signing, Xherdan Shaqiri, are among a number of Swiss players that could switch to Kosovo.

The idea of giving up the chance of reaching a World Cup finals or European championship in order to simply play international friendlies may not initially appeal, but having made this one step, more are likely to follow.

Although FIFA hardly trumpeted the decision, it is a clear snub to both Platini and UEFA, which is also struggling with a controversial attempt to join the international game by a would-be member.
Earlier this year, UEFA was forced to give ground to Gibraltar's long-running attempt to join UEFA - an attempt that has been repeatedly upheld by the game's highest legal body, the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

UEFA has agreed to put Gibraltar's application to a vote and allow the British colony to stage an international youth tournament. Perhaps the Gibraltarians should invite Kosovo?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ha detto: Intressante