FIFA to take decision on Kosovo players hours before team’s competitive debut

FIFA did not specify how many of the eight potential players are in Turku for Tuesday's match against Finland, and did not say if more cases could be approved.

By: AP | Zurich | Updated: September 5, 2016 4:16 pm
fifa, fifa kosovo, kosovo national team, kosovo football, kosovo football team, kosovo recognition, kosovo world cup, kosovo world cup qualifiers, kosovo internationals, kosovo players, kosovar players, kosovo news, football news, sports news, Kosovo play their first competitive international on Monday when they visit Finland in a World Cup qualifier. (Source: Reuters)

FIFA says it is processing eligibility cases for eight potential Kosovo players, hours before the team’s World Cup qualifying debut in Finland. FIFA did not specify how many of the eight are in Turku for Tuesday’s match, and did not say if more cases could be approved.

Kosovo’s entry into 2018 World Cup qualifying, after gaining FIFA membership in May, has tested rules on switching allegiance. Rules to regulate dual nationality players have struggled to deal with a new national team like Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

FIFA says its players’ status committee already granted eligibility to nine Kosovo players. They were previously eligible to compete for six different European countries, including Albania. Kosovo’s World Cup qualifying group also includes Croatia, Iceland, Turkey and Ukraine.

Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008, said on Wednesday they had made requests for nine players to switch national teams, without identifying them. Switzerland and Albania both have players with Kosovar roots.

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.