Kosovo’s recognition by FIFA is a step towards international legitimacy

By The Economist online

SUPERSTITIOUS folk consider Friday the 13th to be unlucky. Football fans in Kosovo might disagree: the day will now be associated with their recognition by FIFA, the sport’s international administrative body. On May 13th delegates at the 66th FIFA Congress in Mexico City voted to admit the Kosovar national team, along with that of Gibraltar, as the group’s 210th and 211th members. Both are now likely to participate in qualification for the 2018 World Cup. In Europe, seven of the qualifying groups have six teams, while two only have five, making it logistically simple for the two new members to slot in.

In Kosovo, the decision resonated well beyond the football pitch. In the years since the Kosovo War of 1998-99, the disputed area between Albania and Serbia has sought more autonomy, and declared independence from Serbia in February 2008. But it has yet to gain membership of the United Nations, many members of which have not given it diplomatic recognition. International sporting groups have been more welcoming. FIFA’s vote followed Kosovo’s admission to the International Olympic Committee, ahead of its debut in the Games this summer—while…

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