still pondering Kosovo plea for player switch
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[September 01, 2016]
By Brian Homewood
ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA is still
considering a request from new members Kosovo to allow a number of
players to switch national teams and represent them, world soccer's
ruling body said on Thursday.
Kosovo, who play their first competitive international on Monday
when they visit Finland in a World Cup qualifier, were accepted as
members of FIFA and European football's governing body UEFA in May
despite fierce opposition from Serbia.
FIFA told Reuters that it had received a "series of requests for
change of associations from the Football Federation of Kosovo.
"The various applications are currently pending and being
investigated. As a result we are not in a position to further
comment on them, nor to give an estimation of the time line."
The Swiss federation (SFV) said its players with Kosovar roots had
been put in "a very difficult situation" and criticized FIFA for
failing to clarify the situation. Albania also have players with
Kosovo, who declared independence from Serbia in 2008, said on
Wednesday they had made requests for nine players to switch national
teams, without identifying them.
FIFA does not ordinarily allow players to switch national teams once
they have represented one country in a competitive international.
However, the statement said it was not clear whether these rules
were applicable if players wanted to change to a team that had not
previously been a FIFA member.
"The specific circumstances of the matter at hand concerning the
admission of a new member to FIFA and players potentially eligible
to play for it appear not to be conclusively governed (by the
statutes)," added soccer's ruling body.
It said FIFA's players' status committee were considering the
requests "while taking into consideration all relevant and specific
facts and circumstances of the matter".
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Raindrops flow down on a logo in front of FIFA's headquarters in
Zurich, Switzerland June 8, 2016. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
FIFA has already allowed Alberto Bunjaku, who made a brief
appearance for Switzerland at the 2010 World Cup, to play for
Finland's Kosovo-born midfielder Perparim Hetemaj has said he will
not play in Monday's match.
The Swiss federation complained in a statement that "the current
situation suffers from the lack of clarity in regulations.
"The SFV wants this situation to end as soon as possible.
Unfortunately UEFA and FIFA have not responded to these approaches.
"The SFV regrets the priority of the Kosovar directors has been in
trying to recruit players for the next World Cup qualifiers instead
of consolidating the foundations of their federation.
"This frantic search has put the players involved and sometimes
their families in a very difficult situation. The SFV strongly
condemns this slanderous and disrespectful way of proceeding."
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)
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