Football: FIFA Oks Kosovo friendly, Serbia protests

Independence of Pristina recognised by 90/193 UN members

22 May, 21:07

(ANSAmed) - BELGRADE, MAY 22 - FIFA has agreed that the Kosovo national side should be free to play friendly matches. In reporting the news, the Tanjug agency notes that the decision was taken in a resolution of FIFA's executive committee, meeting in Budapest. Serbia, who does not recognise Kosovo independence, was quick to protest, calling for an urgent meeting in Budapest tomorrow with UEFA and FIFa chairs Michel Platini and Josef Blatter. The Kosovo Football Association is not a FIFA member, as only UN members can join. The Chair of the Kosovo Football Association, Fadilj Vokri, has confirmed today's decision by FIFA, stating during a press conference in Pristina that friendlies may be played with nations that have recognised the Kosovo's independence. According to Vokri, this is the penultimate stage before full acceptation of the national side as a FIFA member. He stressed that the result had been partly thanks to the contribution made by Sports Minister Memli Krasniqi and by Jerome Champagne, who he called a 'great friend of Kosovar football'. Former club Fenerbahce chair, Ali Shen, had also become involved and lobbied in favour of Kosovo. The national team trainer, Albert Bunjaki, said that FIFA's decision will promote recognition of Kosovo's independence. The first friendly match, he said, would be against Turkey. But for the Serbian Football Federation, the FIFA decision is not allowed for by the association's by-laws and was taken without any consultation of Serbia by UEFA: it could have ''serious consequences for the whole region''. Kosovo proclaimed its independence from Serbia on February 17 2008 and has so far been recognised as a country by 90 nations out of the 193 represented at the United Nations. Those recognising Kosovo include the USA, and 22 of the 27 EU countries, including Italy. (ANSAmed).

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