PRISTINA: The thorny issue of Kosovo is back on the agenda for the next meeting of FIFA’s executive committee on March 20-21 writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

At the equivalent meeting a year ago the world football federation president Sepp Blatter forced through an acceptance of the right of teams from Kosovo to play international friendly games.

These had been restricted because Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia five years ago after a bloody war, has yet to achieve formal statehood within the United Nations and is thus barred for applying from membership of the international football family.

The executive’s approval – achieved in the teeth of opposition from friends of Serbia and Russia within UEFA – was ratified again ahead of FIFA Congress last May in Budapest.

But the Kosovars were furious when terms imposed for such matches – described by FIFA as ‘modalities’ – handed the power of veto of such matches to the Serb federation.

Last December a letter of protest was sent to FIFA by Fadil Vokrri, president of the Football Federation of Kosovo,  and this was followed up early this year by further correspondence to Blatter from Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.

Vokrri has now held a further face-to-face meeting with Blatter at FIFA headquarters in Zurich – accompanied by Kosovo’s ambassador in Switzerland – in an attempt to persuade the world federation to ease the restrictions.

Hence the issue is back on next month’s  FIFA exco agenda.

** This writer has approached the Serb federation for comment and clarification but such requests have been ignored.

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