ZURICH: Nothing is ever guaranteed where Kosovo is concerned but the Balkan state may just find it has made further progress in its slow progress towards sporting interaction later this week writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

FIFA’s governing executive committee meets in Tokyo on Friday, ahead of the decisive climatic phase of the Club World Cup, for a meeting with a packed agenda.

Down among ‘any other business’ is the issue described as ‘modalities of inmplemention of the decision on Kosovo.’

The decision was the one pushed through by president Sepp Blatter that Kosavar teams should be allowed to play friendly matches against teams from other FIFA members – even though the region has yet to gain official United Nations recognition and accession to membership of the European federation UEFA.

Officials from Kosovo have spent most of the past year waiting impatiently for FIFA to decide on precise details of how matches may be staged – and also nervous that antagonistic pressure from Russia-backed Serbia may yet delay matters.

Fadil Vokrri, president of the Kosovo Football Federation, has written to Blatter and all members of the exco pointing out that 118 FIFA members now recognise Kosovo, who include the four British associations and most of the European Union, as well as 97 of the 193 members – i.e. slightly over half – of the United Nations.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia and cross-border relations remain taut. However a signal of progress came last week after disvussions in Brussels between Serbia Prime Minister, Ivica Dacic, with his Kosovo counterpart, Hashim Thaci, and the European Union Foreign Affairs Minister, Catherine Ashton.

After reporting back to Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic and other officials, Dacic said he had obtained support to continue negotiations with Kosovo and implement previously agreed deals.

These include a contentious border agreement which is opposed by Kosovo Serbs as tantamount to Serbian recognition of Kosovo’s independence.

Under the terms of the IBM agreement, Kosovo and Serbian customs and police officers will stand under one roof once the agreement is put into operation.

EU-mediated talks in Belgium started in March 2011, three years after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia.

Serbia insisted it would never recognise Kosovo as a state but has conceded a readiness to deals which would improve daily lives on both sides of the border.

So far, the two sides have reached deals on freedom of movement, university diplomas, regional representation and on trade.

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