FIFA brings together FAs of Kosovo and Serbia

The Kosovan Football team

03.11.2009

By Steve Menary
The football associations of Serbia and Kosovo will have their first official meeting in Zurich this Friday in talks hosted by FIFA aimed at dragging the former Yugoslav republic out of sporting limbo.

The football associations of Serbia and Kosovo will have their first official meeting in Zurich this Friday (November 5) in talks hosted by FIFA aimed at dragging the former Yugoslav republic out of sporting limbo.

Kosovo declared independence in February last year but has not been admitted into the United Nations (UN) – the key criteria for UEFA membership - after furious opposition from Serbia, which does not recognize Kosovo’s independence, and its key ally Russia.

UEFA would not comment but a FIFA spokesman confirmed the meeting and added: “The meeting will discuss some practical issues … like the transfer of players out of Kosovo need to be addressed.”

Geoff Thompson, the former chairman of the Football Association in England, will mediate between the two delegations led by Fadil Vokrri of the Football Federation of Kosovo (FFK) with Tomislav Karadjic, president of the Serbian FA, also likely to attend.

Kosovan footballers have been left in limbo with players like Lorik Cana and Valon Behrami, who play in the English Premier League for Sunderland and West Ham respectively, switching nationality in order to play international football.

“We are waiting 10 years after the war for something better, 15,000 players are waiting and a community of 200,000 people is engaged in football in Kosovo and hoping for better days,” says Driton Latifi, a journalist and sports news editor at Kosovan newspaper Daily Lajm, who is traveling to Zurich. “Our players are going abroad like emigrants and not proper transfers.”

UEFA has already indicated that if the FFK is admitted, Kosovars playing international football for other nations will be getting the chance to switch nationality in a move that could decimate the Albanian team.

Cana is one of a number of ethnic Kosovars to have played for Albania, while Behrami turns out for Switzerland and the veteran Shefki Kuqi of TuS Koblenz in Germany has appeared for Finland more than 50 times.

The FFK applied to join FIFA, which insists that the matter is only to discuss practical issues not international representation, in October 2008 but the Kosovans need to join UEFA before being admitted to the world body and were rebuffed. In March this year during a visit to the Serbian capital of Belgrade, UEFA chairman Michel Platini declared: “Politics is not my job, and UEFA honours its statute.”

Edmond Rugova, a Kosovar who moved to the US and turned out for the New York Cosmos, returned to the land of his birth in 2006 to take over as manager of Kosovo’s nascent national team.

He masterminded a 1-0 win over 2006 world cup finalists Saudi Arabia but quit earlier this year after the FFK found organizing matches difficult. Friendlies with Qatar and Benin had to be cancelled and the Kosovo national side had to sneak into Sweden in March 2009 and play as the ‘Super Liga of Kosovo Selection’ for a match with Allsvenskan side Malmo, whose squad includes exiled Kosovars, Labinot Harbuzi and Agon Mehmeti.
A weakened Kosovan side lost 5-0 and shortly after that match, Rugova returned to the US.

Albert Bunjaku, formerly the coach of Kalmar FF in Sweden, took over as Kosovo’s coach but Rugova has returned to Kosovo as chief executive of the country’s biggest club, FC Prishtina and hopeful of some progress in Zurich.

The talks are not the first time that FIFA has tried to resolve a political impasse. In September 2007, FIFA invited the football associations in the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and the Greek-dominated Republic of Cyprus together for talks.

These continued for 18 months but collapsed in April 2009, after a change in government in the enclave, which declared independence in 1982, which went largely ignored in contrast to Kosovo, whose independence has so far been accepted by 63 countries.

  • Bill Parks, Kovoso, 22.04.2012 09:56:
     
    Sport starts with kids. Yes, kids become adults, and everyone lives in a country, although even that is disputed in Kosovo's case. Let's get back to giving the kids every opportunity possible to someday engage in international competition, and have a whole lot of fun on the way. To the end, the Kosovo Softball Federation has recreated itself from its 2008 inception, and is now taking serious steps to genuinely establish softball and baseball. This is happening through pilot training programs in 3 Pristina elementary schools, the modification of a park into a ball field, and the generous contribution of equipment. Anyone interested in following this landmark progress should see FaceBook "Balkan Baseball". If more than 127 countries play baseball/softball (39 European Federations), why not Kosovo, with the largest youth population in Europe?
  • Jan ., 03.05.2011 09:26:
     
    As I have been in Kosovo as a soldier from 1999 untill 2004, I have seen the destruction and all the bad things made by the conflict. Now Kosovo is free and I was back there last spring, It has blossomed. So its freedom is what is best for the region and the world. Let them play international football. Everyone knows it will happen eventually.

    Best regards Ltn. Jan
  • linda cry, london, 25.12.2010 09:55:
     
    Albania are useless what hope has their "B" team? Since the Serbs were excluded for years dues to "politics" I hope the governing bodies apply the same principles to this highly sensitive political issue. Kosovo is not a country! The Serbs from kosovo have one player (Milos Krasic) better than all the albanians combined and he and the Serbs will be at the World Cup.
  • KOSOVA1 PRISHTINA1, 11.06.2010 10:18:
     
    KOSOVA HAS THE BEST PLAYERS, IS VERY SAD THAT SERBIA IS SO jealous THAT WE CAN BEAT THEM IN FOOTBALL, SO THEY DON'T WANT US TO PLAY.
  • Ago Gago, 11.12.2009 14:45:
     
    For Muhammad......,
    don´t talk about other countries about you don´t know nothing !Inform yourself about Kosovo (History-People-Churches-Monastiers and so on, then you´ll understand) !!!
  • Mohammad Zubayer, Dhaka,Bangladesh, 18.11.2009 13:56:
     
    Kosovo,is a independent country,must be recognize the honour of the people's choice for independence.Which fought against the Barbaric regime
    of serbia,who killed torture,rape,kidnap many people who are still waiting to meet with their families,I am a freedom fighter & a doctor from Bangladesh,I know what is Freedom,and which we can tell the identity & culture and a taste of freedom.It's not provocation,Kosovo is a reality,lets us respect the choice of the people of Kosovo for independence.
    Kovoso will play as a country in FIFA
    not with other country, a independence of choice by the people off the people & for the people.Joi Kosovo,My salute to you to the people & Government.Thank you All.
  • Sir Serb ., 12.11.2009 13:55:
     
    Yes Toni, there is a lot of talents in Serbia. You forget to mention Vidic, Krasic, Stankovic, Tosic, Zigic, Dragutinovic...
  • Toni ., 05.11.2009 13:55:
     
    Lets face it Kosova have too many talents for Serbia.
    L.Cana, Bunjaku, Nuhiu, A.Fazliu, Kuqi, Zdrella, Zaberxha, and many more talents.
  • Aleksa Papic, RT, 05.11.2009 13:54:
     
    hahaha Kosovo is Serbia there is no independence SRBIJA CCCC
  • Marco ., 05.11.2009 13:54:
     
    Freedom. Freedom for Kosovo. No one can stop freedom.

    Whether FIFA and UEFA recognize the new reality or not, Kosovo will never play again in the context of the Serbian hooligan leagues.
  • K S, 05.11.2009 13:53:
     
    We hope for Kosova to join FIFA and we have got players like Cana and Behrami and in bundesliga Bunjaku ,Mavraj and others on Zurich and many others in european clubs.We hope diskrimination of Kosova football wille end, give as a chance to play with a world.
  • Toni ., 04.11.2009 13:52:
     
    Kosovo has 1st class fotball players, it is pitty not to admit Kosovo Football into UEFA and FIFA. Sports are supposed to be free of politics, but clearly opposition of Serbia and Russia is making it difficult for Kosovo to join international Football. Serbia has another reason, they know the quality of Football in Kosovo and they are affraid it will compete against their big money transfers.
  • Michael ., 04.11.2009 13:52:
     
    Albania are useless what hope has their "B" team? Since the Serbs were excluded for years dues to "politics" I hope the governing bodies apply the same principles to this highly sensitive political issue. Kosovo is not a country! The Serbs from kosovo have one player (Milos Krasic) better than all the albanians combined and he and the Serbs will be at the World Cup.

    All the best.
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