Kosovo Becomes The 55th Member of UEFA, Cheers!

When UEFA announced its decision that Kosovo was accepted as a member of UEFA, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci declared to AFP that : “After three decades of isolation for Kosovo football, Kosovo’s membership in UEFA marks a new page, a historic day. I strongly believe that the next step will be Kosovo’s membership in FIFA.”

Indeed, May third of 2016 was a big historical news date for Kosovo Republic because UEFA granted full membership for Kosovo Football Federation, FIFA president Fianni Infantino said, during the 40th Ordinary Congress of the Union of European Football Associations, UEFA, in Budapest, Hungary, Tuesday, May 3, 2016.

There’s no doubt that was a historical day for the Kosovo national football team because for the first time in its history (since Kosovo became a new independent state on February 17, 2008) Kosovo was recognized by UEFA as its 55th member. This was despite stonewalling by Serbia’s Football Association headed by its president Tomislav Karadzic who said UEFA’s decision was “political” and “diplomatic sport battle” noting that for four times they prevented the admission of Kosovo to membership of UEFA. But the fifth time in the 40th Ordinary Congress of the Union of European Football Associations in Budapest, Serbian Football delegation suffered a breakdown. Most of its members (28) voted for Kosovo to become a new UEFA member even though Kosovo is not yet a member of the United Nations .

uefa announces kosovo membership.
Theodore Theodoridis announces Kosovo is the 55th member of UEFA.

Kosovo’s membership in UEFA is a great victory for the sport of Kosovo, and hopefully FIFA will meet Kosovo Football Federation’s request to admit Kosovo as a new member at its Congress in Mexico City on May 13, 2016. If it happens, Kosovo national football team will participate in the World Cup in Russia in 2018.

Serbia Angry With UEFA

Why is Serbia so angry with UEFA?

It’s unbelievable why Serbian football official representative who participated at the UEFA Congress in Budapest in May 3, 2016 becomes upset that Kosovo was granted with membership by the UEFA. This also proved the immediate reaction of the Serbia’s Football Association, Tomislav when in his speech at the Congress pointed out that this is a political decision, and UEFA with this act opens a ‘Pandora’s Box.’ Serbia Football Federation has fought and refused all Kosovo’s attempts to join international sport associations such as the International Olympic Committee, UEFA and others.

The interfering of Serbian politics in international sport!

It is an intolerable and absurd political act by Serbia. This statement by the Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said that “the admission of Kosovo to the European football union just another reminder that we live in a world of interests and politics, not law and rules. But we should fight for our best position in the world for new and old friends, the coincidence of our and others’ interests, and, in all this, of course, to the consistency of our policy, which is one thing definitely will not compromise. We ourselves will not recognize Kosovo. the rest is, as we saw today – as possible.” [sport.blic.rs]

For Kosovo’s admission to UEFA, Serbia has blamed not only 28 members of UEFA, but also Russia, which has not prevented such a decision in favor of Kosovo. But Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, said that his country “voted against Kosovo’s membership in the European Football Union, but Russia respects the democratic decision of the Congress.

Serbia Politicized UEFA Decision

Serbia is guilty of the politicization of UEFA’s decision to accept Kosovo as its a new member, not UEFA, nor Albanian or Russian football delegations in Budapest (May 3, 2016).

Kosovo receiving full membership is only a nightmare for Serbia, which before the start lobbied many countries to vote against it, but that did not work at the 40th Ordinary Congress of the Union of European Football Associations, UEFA, in Budapest, Hungary, Tuesday, May 3, 2016. Kosovo received 28 votes in favor, while 24 Member States voted against, and two votes were invalid.

This confirmed and Tomislav Karadzic with his foreign minister Ivica Dacic, tried to politicize the UEFA decision about granting membership of Kosovo, saying that “Serbia refused UEFA’s decision about recognizing Kosovos membership because of the fact that Kosovo is still part of Serbia according to the United Nations resolution 1244 , (June 10, 1999).”

But, in this case both Karadzic and Serbia’s Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić are wrong, because Kosovo is not a colony of Serbia, but an independent and sovereign state recognized by 112 countries of the United Nations.

Positive Result For Kosovo

Therefore, Kosovo has the right to be a full member of the UN, as well as a member of the international and european political, economic, trade, cultural as well international sports associations, such as UEFA and FIFA etc.

UEFA’s positive result in Kosovo sparked enthusiasm. Social networks are inundated with messages of gratitude to UEFA. Fadil Vokrri, president of the Football Federation of Kosovo, said “the result was a historic moment. We will be able to bring people together through football on the pitch and around the pitch.” This is our vision for the future as the 55th member association of UEFA.”

This favorable decision is extremely important to continue because it will be based on that assessment by UEFA to consider the question of Kosovo’s admission to membership of FIFA in the Assembly which will be held in May 13 in Mexico.

Mehdi Hyseni is an Albanian Ph.D. in International Political Relations, residing in Boston.