Kosovo national team approved for play

Central European News Briefs: Jun. 2012

News | Vienna Review | June 2012

After prolonged reluctance, FIFA approved the participation of the Kosovo national football team in friendly matches with its 208 member countries, but then suspended its decision due to protest from the Serbian Federation.

Behind closed doors at the annual FIFA Congress, held in May in Budapest, President Sepp Blatter announced the initial decision after a vote in which one federation, UEFA, voted against the move.

In a statement on its website, FIFA had announced: "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 statues." Article 79 stipulates that non-members of FIFA such as Kosovo may play against members only with the approval of FIFA.

On 25 May, at the end of the week-long Congress, FIFA reversed their decision, announcing that officials from UEFA and Serbia would convene in Zurich on 29 June to clarify the decision on paper.

FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke told the AP, "it’s not recognition of Kosovo as a country, but it’s recognition that it’s a country where you play football."

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