TOKYO: Kosovo teams have been cleared by FIFA, in the teeth of Serb and Russian opposition, to start playing internationals friendlies against sides from world federation members writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The long-running campaign by the Kosovo federation was given conditional approval by the FIFA executive committee in Tokyo today.

However the exco cleared ‘only’ Kosovar amateur, youth and women’s representative teams and clubs – not a men’s senior national team. This may come as a relief to several federations, such as the Swiss, who have come to rely ever more heavily on players on Kosovar origin who might push for the right to switch national alliegiance.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter – impatient with the stubborn intransigence of European federation UEFA on the issue – pushed through exco last spring the principle that Kosavar teams should be allowed to play internationally – even though the region has yet to gain official United Nations recognition [a bar to pursuit of UEFA membership].

Officials from Kosovo have spent most of the past year waiting impatiently for FIFA to decide on precise details of how matches might be staged.

Fadil Vokrri, president of the Kosovo Football Federation, had written to Blatter and his exco earlier this month 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 of the United Nations.

Kosovo seceded from Serbia in 2008 but Serbia refuses to recognise its claim to independent nationhood.

Other FIFA exco decisions

FIFA’s executive committee, meeting in Tokyo, confirmed that the issue of third-party ownership of players should be studied with a view to established control and regulation. UEFA wants such arrangements banned;

* The crisis within the Football Federation of Indonesia will be reviewed by the associations committee and the exco at their next meetings in March after the PSSI presented a three-month roadmap to resolve its internal crises;

* The mandate of a normalistion committee set up to run Sierra Leone football, in place of the SLFA, has been extended until July 31;

* Venues for the keynote four matches of the 2018 World Cup in Russia have been confirmed as:

Luzhniki, Moscow for the Opening Match, one semi-final and the Final;

Saint Petersburg for one semi-final

* The four venues for the 2017 Confederations Cup have been confirmed as Kazan, Sochi, Moscow Spartak and Saint Petersburg.

* Byrom plc has been confirmed as FIFA’s official accommodation agency for the 2017 Confederations Cup and 2018 World Cup [following an open public tender process].

* New Stadium Safety and Security Regulations have been approved.


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