2022 World Qualifiers: why the name "Kosovo" is a problem in Spain

The Kosovo team said they were saddened by the treatment they received in Spain, a country that does not recognize its independence, on the sidelines of the match against La Roja on Wednesday (8:45 p.m.), counting for qualifying for the Cup. world 2022.

Football is always more than football. And on the ground that will host the poster between Spain and Kosovo, as part of the qualifications for the 2022 World Cup, this Wednesday, it will also be a question of politics, before kick-off. Because Spain, like countries like Greece (which appears in the same group), China, Russia, or even Slovakia, does not recognize the independence of the former Serbian province. And this position causes diplomatic tensions.

Since the date is known, the former Serbian province, mainly populated by Albanians, seems to consider this match as a form of national affirmation. For its part, Madrid stresses that it is a simple “sporting event”. Which it is not, since according to Marca the term Kosovo will not be spoken on the public service, just as the Kosovar anthem may not be shown to Spanish viewers.

Tensions for several years

“We find it very difficult to understand this denigrating behavior,” said the Kosovo football team on social media. Spain’s stance on Kosovo has generated tension in sport in the past. Spain, for example, refused to host the elite qualifying round matches for the 2019 European Under-17 Championships between its selection, Greece, Kosovo and Ukraine, which were ultimately played out. in Nyon (Switzerland).

In November 2018, the Kosovar participants in the world karate championships in Madrid also had to do so under the banner of the International Karate Federation, to the annoyance of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which had toughened their tone. To the chagrin of Belgrade, which still considers Kosovo to be an integral part of its territory, UEFA and FIFA have recognized Kosovo, which declared its independence from Serbia in 2008 in 2008, as a full member since 2016.

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