ZURICH: The Kosovar players’ ‘justice’ petition sent to FIFA [article above] insists this is a unique case – not comparable, for example, with the Gibraltar* issue – and does not compromise their current national team loyalties.
The petition wording:
Declaration for the right to Kosovo to play international football:
We footballers whose roots and origins are linked to Kosovo, solemly declare that:
1, We fully and unquestionably support the right of football players and clubs from Kosovo to play football internationally;
2, We applaud the decision taken by the FIFA executive committee, during its meeting in Budapest last May under the chairmanship of the FIFA president, Mr Joseph S Blatter, to authorise FIFA member associations to play friendly matches with Kosovo national teams and clubs if they wish so;
3, We are worried of [sic] media reports alleging that the ‘modalities’ for this authorisation by FIFA would in fact restrict this authorisation to youth teams and age-category matches;
4, We want to affirm with strength and resolve that Kosovo, a country recognised by 91 countries over six continents in the world and already accepted into international organisations such the IMF and World Bank, and into six international sports federations recognised by the International Olympic Committee, cannot be compared to other territories in Europe and the world currently claiming for a similar participation to international football;
5, We confirm our loyalty to the national teams of the countries for which we have the honour and the privilege to play but we regret that our passion for football cannot be expressed for the national team of the country where our roots and ancestry come from;
6, We finally commit our support to the Football Federation of Kosovo in this common fight for the implementation of the principles contained in the FIFA Statutes: justice, respect, non-discrimination, refusal of political interference and universality of football.
The leading 10 Kosovo-linked stars who have signed the petition are Switzerland internationals Xherdan Shaqiri (Bayern Munich), Valon Behrami (Napoli) and Granit Xhaka (Borussia Mg) plus Albania’s Lorik Cana (Lazio), Etrit Berisha (Kalmar), Armend Dallku (Vorsilla), Mergin Havrai (Furth), Alban Meha (Paderborn) and Samir Ujkami (Palermo) along with German women’s international Fatmire ‘Lira’ Bajramaj (1FFC Frankfurt).
*Gibraltar’s football authorities have been pressing for admission to UEFA for more than two decades. The Royal Spanish Football Federation, under orders from successive Spanish governments, have blocked every application. The context is the long-standing dispute between Spain and Britain over the international status of ‘The Rock.’
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