TIRANA: An Albanian nationalist organisation has launched a campaign for the merger of the football leagues of Albania and Kosovo, the state caught in international political and sporting limbo since finally achieving from Serbia to the north writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The Red and Black Alliance has defined its initiative under the title “One nation, one league.” It has claimed the move is necessary in light of “discrimination against the Kosovan national football team in the international arena.”
To this end, the Alliance suggested, the two football federations should start negotiations with the football governing bodies UEFA and FIFA.
Kosovo has its own football federation which is headed up by one-time Yugoslavia forward Fadil Vokkri. It has been rebuffed repeatedly in pleas for UEFA and FIFA to relax opposition to friendly matches against national teams and clubs from states which recognise Kosovar independence.
FIFA is considered prepared to offer development help but UEFA has remained stubbornly unsympathetic to the needs of football in one of the poorest states in Europe.
Crucially Serbia and Russia do not recognise Kosovo which has prevented it obtaining membership of the United Nations, an essential step towards recognition by the international football authorities.
The Red and Black Alliance is a patriot/nationalist organisation whose Christmas/New Year holiday celebration in London was attended by not only Alliance leader Kreshnik Spahiu but by the national football team captain Lorik Cana. Other attendees included London-based boxer Kreshnik Qato and Miss Albania 2010, Arnita Beqiraj. Spahiu was runner-up in the 2011 Man of the Year poll organised by the Top TV channel.
Cana, 28, plays currently in Italy with Lazio after earlier spells with Paris Saint-Germain, Marseille, Sunderland – where he was captain in 2009-10 – and Turkey’s Galatasaray.
A comment has been sought from FFK.