[QODLink]
Football
FIFA welcomes Kosovo into the fold
World football's governing body clears Kosovo to play international matches reversing previous ban on Balkan province.
Last Modified: 22 May 2012 11:44
Several Kosovo-born players have since moved and settled with their adopted country’s national team, including Valon Behrami, above, who played for Switzerland at the 2010 World Cup [GETTY]

FIFA gave a huge boost to Kosovo's push for international recognition by clearing its 208 member countries on Tuesday to begin playing friendlies against teams from the Balkan province.

World football’s governing body and European football's governing body UEFA had previously blocked Kosovo's ambitions because it was not recognised by the United Nations.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter proposed the policy change to his executive committee at a meeting on Monday.

"It's Blatter who asked the executive committee and only one confederation opposed it,'' FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke told newsagency The Associated Press.

UEFA's eight votes on the 24-man FIFA ruling panel failed to uphold the block on Kosovo.

‘Credibility’

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in February 2008, and has sought links with international sports federations in its official push for statehood.

"It's not recognition of Kosovo as a country, but it's recognition that it's a country where you play football,'' Valcke said.
 
"It gives them a credibility.

"They were concerned that their players were taken away by clubs in other countries.''

Several Kosovo-born players later settled in Switzerland when war broke out in the former Yugoslavia and have since represented their adopted country's national team.

Xherdan Shaqiri, who is 20, will join Champions League finalist Bayern Munich from FC Basel next month, and Valon Behrami was one of Switzerland's star players when they went to the 2010 World Cup.

FIFA's statutes allow for players with Kosovo connections to transfer national allegiance if the country gets full international recognition.

Source:
AP
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Frustration grows in Kiev as pledges to end corruption and abuse of power stagnate after Maidan Square protest.
Thousands of Houthi supporters have called for the fall of Yemen's government. But what do the Houthis really want?
New ration reductions and movement restrictions have refugees from Myanmar anxious about their future in Thailand.
US lawyers say poor translations of election materials disenfranchise Native voters.
US drones in Pakistan have killed thousands since 2004. How have leaders defended or decried these deadly planes?
join our mailing list