Sunday, 23 December 2012

Kosovo reject FIFA friendlies offer

The Football Federation of Kosovo has rejected an offer from FIFA to play international friendlies as the deal would mean the FFK needs to get Serbian permission first.

According to the website, the FFK would need to ask Serbian permission to play games, which would need to be staged at a neutral venue and without any symbols of the Kosovan state. 

In a letter to FIFA president Sepp Blatter sent by the FFK, the Kosovan association's president Fadil Vokrri describes the offer as an “insult to an independent country recognised by 97 UN [United Nations] member states … representing 118 of the 209 FIFA member associations.”

Vokrri continues: “It is an insult to the sufferings and persecution of the Kosovo football community, which struggled during years to continue its existence and persevered to maintain its clubs, leagues and players in the harshest circumstances of segregation and violence.

“It is also the negation of the fact that in some regional meetings and talks in Brussels under the EU [European Union] auspices, Kosovo is treated as an independent state even in discussions with Serbia on bilateral issues.

“Not only the football-governing bodies are trailing behind the political realities, but such a decision by FIFA seems to submit a football-only issue to some political considerations and governmental interference.”

In the letter, Vokrri says that FIFA’s demand contradicts what he describes as previous positive discussions in Zurich between his federation and FIFA.

Kosovo declared independence on February 17 2008 but its footballers have been in limbo ever since. UEFA president Michel Platini has stuck to his body’s membership criteria and insisted that the FFK will not be admitted until Kosovo is a member of the United Nations. 

Opposition from Serbia and its ally Russia has so far stymied that and earlier this year Blatter over-ruled Platini and insisted that Kosovo be allowed to play international friendlies. Endless filibustering by the Serbs has stopped that happening and only junior, women’s, amateur and clubs form Kosovo can play sides outside the former autonomous province within the former Yugoslovia.

Senior internationals remain banned and the compromise now offered by FIFA has finally fractured the long-standing patience of the FFK.

The idea of Serbia being allowed to ‘vet’ potential games for Kosovo is ludicrous and harks back more than a century, when a suggestion was floated that Scotland – then not a member of the nascent FIFA body – would need to get permission from the only UK association then in FIFA before playing a mooted game with Denmark.

The idea of Scotland needing English permission was as ludicrous then as that of Kosovo proposing opponents to Serbia is now. The Scotland vs Denmark game never went ahead and more than two decades passed before Scotland played an international against a side outside the UK.

The prospect of Kosovo waiting another 20 years or more before playing a friendlies would be vindictive in the extreme but no Kosovan games ‘sanctioned’ by the Serbs are ever likely to be staged. 

The conditions set out by FIFA to the Kosovans also have implications for another aspiring UEFA member that is apparently banned from playing international friendlies. 

Gibraltar were made provisional members of UEFA in October with a full vote on the British colony’s membership due at the European body’s congress in London in May 2013.

Despite this, Gibraltar are apparently banned from playing full internationals (see previous posting) and the Kosovan affairs suggests that perhaps FIFA and UEFA could be considering giving Spain the right to vet senior Gibraltar friendlies.

Perhaps the solution is for Gibraltar and Kosovo to play each other in a friendly and then see what UEFA and FIFA did about it?

1 comment:

Asllan Islami said...

you seem to miss the point that what FIFA are asking Kosovo to do is live at the permission of the very nation that instigated the worst genocide against them seen in Europe since WW2. it's like asking the Israeli football team to only play friendly matches which are vetted by Nazis.
Shame on FIFA, it's an insult to the very basic requirements oh humanity,
unless they fully withdraw this disgraceful statement and reverse their policy of footballing apartheid they will be on the wrong side of history!