Spain’s football match against Kosovo erupts into diplomatic row

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Spain’s 2022 World Cup qualifier against Kosovo on Wednesday has turned from a football match into a diplomatic row. Following Kosovo’s threats to boycott the match in Seville after the Spanish football federation (RFEF) described their opponents as a “territory”, the Spanish physique have assured that the match can be performed in accordance with FIFA and UEFA guidelines.

Kosovo, a former Serbian province of 1.8 million folks, declared its independence in 2008. Most nations on the planet acknowledge Kosovo as an unbiased nation, however Serbia’s political allies — China, Russia — and nations like Spain, Greece, Slovakia and Romania don’t.

Soon after the Spanish football federation (RFEF) described Kosovo as a “territory” when it printed Spain’s opening World Cup qualifying fixtures, Marca reported that the Kosovo flag wouldn’t be displayed subsequent to the Spanish flag through the match and that the Kosovo anthem could be offered as “music donated by the territory of Kosovo”.

In response, the Football Federation of Kosovo (FFK), mentioned in an announcement that “Kosovo is an independent state” and threatened to not play the match if it was not allowed to make use of its nationwide anthem and flag.

“We were prepared not to go to Spain due to the political context of this decision,” FFK secretary normal Eroll Salihu informed AFP on Tuesday.

In an announcement issued earlier, the Kosovo Football Federation, FFK, had referred to as Spain’s reference to Kosovo as “territory” a “provocation” and vowed to not make “any concession”. “We will play only according to strict UEFA criteria, with the flag and anthem. Otherwise, the match will not be played,” the FFK had mentioned.

Meanwhile, whereas the Spanish football federation has agreed to make use of the nationwide flag and anthem of Kosovo at Wednesday’s match, this doesn’t have any bearing on Spain’s political place.

“The staging of the match between the teams from these two federations does not under any circumstances change Spain’s position not to acknowledge Kosovo as a state,” Spanish diplomatic sources informed AFP on Tuesday.

The Spanish authorities’s place is defined by fears of a knock-on impact recognition of Kosovo might have for separatists in Catalonia.

When the draw for World Cup {qualifications} was made in December 2020, Kosovo was initially positioned in Group A, however was displaced to Group B as Group A already contained Serbia.

UEFA guidelines forestall two nations in political disputes being drawn in the identical qualifying group. In Group B, alongside Spain, Kosovo was drawn with Sweden, Greece and Georgia.

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