The 40th ordinary congress of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has admitted with an immediate effect the Football Federation of Kosovo (FFK) as the 55th member association, UEFA said on May 3.
Since unilaterally declaring independence from Serbia in 2008, Kosovo has been seeking to consolidate its position on the international stage. In addition to obtaining recognition of its independence by 109 states so far, Pristina has also been pursuing membership of international organisations.
An association of associations, UEFA is the governing body of European football. According to previous reports, in case its UEFA bid is approved, Kosovo is anticipated to also seek full membership in the world football governing body FIFA in May. This would enable the Balkan country to participate in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
At the UEFA congress, held in Budapest, FFK received 28 votes in favour. There were 24 votes against and two invalid votes. Kosovo’s admission required a simple majority. UEFA interim general secretary Theodore Theodoridis welcomed the organisation’s 55th member.
Theodoridis also said, "It was a very democratic process, and very open discussions [took place] between the national associations. We respect the result of the Congress [vote]."
#Kosovo is the newest member of @uefa! Thank you to all those who voted "yes" for our children and youth to compete in football," Kosovan president Hashim Thaci wrote on his Twitter feed in response to the news.
However, Belgrade reacted angrily to the UEFA decision to admit Kosovo. Serbian first deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs Ivica Dacic called the decision the " fruit of political pressures", in a statement on the Serbian government website. He added that the Football Association of Serbia "has legal means to challenge this non-statutory and, obviously, political decision before the court."
A number of UEFA member countries do not recognize Kosovo as an independent state, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, Israel, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine.
Kosovo narrowly failed to become a full member of the UN cultural agency UNESCO, falling just short of the required two-thirds majority in a ballot on November 9. However, Kosovo is expected to compete in Olympics for the first time this summer.
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