PRISTINA- Kosovo are gearing up for their FIFA-approved debut on the international scene when they play a friendly match against Haiti, the first in their six-year history as an independent state.
This match will break the ice, it is the end of isolation” of Kosovo in international football, their federation (FFK) chairman Fadil Vokrri told AFP ahead of the match.
The match against Haiti will overcome a long impasse that saw Kosovar teams in all sports internationally isolated after Pristina unilaterally proclaimed independence from Serbia in 2008.
The breakaway territory is recognized as a new state by more than 100 countries, including the United States and 23 out of 28 European Union member states, but not by Serbia or its traditional ally Russia.
Serbia has been fiercely opposing Pristina’s membership in the United Nations. As a consequence, Kosovo are also unable to join football’s world governing body FIFA and many other international sporting organisations.
However, on January 13, FIFA’s emergency committee gave Kosovo’s national team the green light to play matches following Vokrri’s lobbying and long negotiations with Serbian football officials.
“This is FIFA’s decision, it is in accordance with the recommendations of our government, the case is closed,” said Tomislav Karadzic, head of Serbia’s Football Association.
The match against Haiti will be played at the Adem Jashari stadium in the northern town of Kosovska Mitrovica, which has a capacity of 29,000.