Kosovo are threatening not to play their World Cup qualification match against Spain later this month due to an inflammatory description from the Spanish FA.
The Spanish FA has sparked controversy over its description of Kosovo as “the territory of Kosovo” -rather than recognising it as an independent nation state – in an official press release earlier on Tuesday.
Spain are due to play the Balkan nation later this month in a World Cup qualifier at the Cartuja stadium in Seville.
The two nations have never previously met with Kosovo national football team only recognised as a member by both FIFA and UEFA governing bodies in 2016 – and its first qualification campaign was for the 2018 World Cup.
Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia in February 2008 and it has subsequently diplomatic recognition as a sovereign state by 98 member states of the United Nations.
Now, the Kosovan FA have responded, in quotes carried by Diario AS:
“The approach of the Spanish state towards the state of Kosovo has been unfortunately destructive since the declaration of Independence on February 17, 2008, but this approach and the structure that the institutions of this country try to give to the citizens of Kosovo, cannot change history and reality.
“Kosovo is an independent state, recognised by most of the most developed and democratic countries in the world and a member on an equal footing with all other UEFA and FIFA countries since May 2016.
“The attempt by the Spaniards to minimize the statehood of Kosovo for the 31 March match for the World Cup qualifiers “Qatar 2022”, referring to Kosovo as territory, is in vain and unfair. They are aware that on this date they will face the Kosovo National Team, which will present itself like any other country.
“The criteria of UEFA and FIFA are as clear as glass and Spain knows it, so what is said and written does not change these rules and will in no way change them. If they want to justify themselves in front of the national media it is their problem, but Kosovo will not make any concessions: we will only play according to the strict criteria and rules of UEFA, with the national anthem and the flag, otherwise the match will not be disputed.
“However, this form of rapprochement by the Spanish is unacceptable to us and we immediately contacted the Spanish Federation, and now we are waiting for a quick reaction from them. If they do not react in this direction, then we will be forced to claim our right to UEFA, where we will seek the protection of this institution, because we are members of UEFA with the same rights as 54 other associations and Spain is obliged to treat us as that way.
“The FFK expects the Spanish Federation to behave in accordance with UEFA and FIFA rules and not take actions that damage relations between the federations and our two countries.”