Football Football

Sports court upholds Kosovo’s UEFA membership

Kosovo’s Bernard Berisha in action against Croatia during a World Cup qualifying match in Shkoder, on October 6, 2016 © AFP

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, Jan 24The world’s top sports court on Tuesday dismissed an appeal by Serbia against Kosovo’s membership in European football governing body UEFA.

Belgrade had appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) seeking to annul a May decision by UEFA members admitting the Football Federation of Kosovo (FFK).

The Lausanne, Switzerland-based court ruled that Serbia’s grounds for appeal were solid since UEFA statutes say membership is open to countries recognised by the United Nations as independent states.

Kosovo is not a UN member, but the court said it was free to join UEFA because a majority of UN members have recognised Pristina’s independence, despite fierce opposition from Serbia.

Kosovo’s “admission as a member association of UEFA is confirmed”, a CAS statement said, throwing out the appeal from the Football Association of Serbia.

The International Olympic Committee recognised Kosovo in 2014. UEFA’s decision in May to admit Pristina triggered the same move by FIFA later in the month.

Kosovo was at the centre of a war between ethnic-Albanian and Serbian forces in 1998-99 and declared its independence from Serbia in 2008.