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Football: GFA application to UEFA, delayed due to Spain's insistence that Victoria Satdium is on disputed territory

The decision by the UEFA executive committee to postpone its decision over Gibraltar joining UEFA stems from allegations made by the Spanish football federation that Gibraltar's football installations are not in British Gibraltar, but in the isthmus which Spain considers to be disputed land - and which it further claims is under Spanish sovereignty.

What strengthens the Spanish position, and in turns weakens our position, is that in the airport agreement concocted under the tripartite process, Gibraltar has agreed with the Spanish contention that the isthmus is disputed land. And additionally, we have further safeguarded the Spanish position by the concessions that have been made over the use of the airport, as if it was a Spanish airport for flights to and from Spain.

Spain may argue that the isthmus is disputed land, in the same way that they claim the rest of Gibraltar, but the Gibraltar Government should not go along with it.


The airport agreement says that it is without prejudice to the respective legal positions "with regard to the dispute over sovereignty and jurisdiction over the territory in which the airport is situated."

The legal positions may differ, but what was accepted in Cordoba clearly means that all sides fully recognise that there is a "dispute over sovereignty and jurisdiction" over the whole of the isthmus area, which extends from the frontier to Casemates.

This is now being used by Spain to try and stop the GFA joining UEFA despite the favourable ruling by the Court for Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.

It now transpires that the president of the Spanish football federation, Angel Villar, in his 11th hour intervention before the UEFA committee, put forward what are political arguments concerning the isthmus, insisting that Gibraltar's football facilities are located on land which the Spanish Government claims is under Spanish sovereignty.

The Spanish argument is that the isthmus was illegally occupied by Britain in 1909, when the actual frontier fence was erected.


In fact, this is incorrect as British jurisdiction over that area goes back to the 1800s when a line of sentries demarcated what was known as the Spanish and the British neutral grounds. Subsequently, a fence was erected by Britain to prevent smuggling between Spanish and British territory.

Spain has always rejected taking the question of the isthmus to the International Court of Justice.

Meanwhile, the Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos says Spain will not drop its guard over the UEFA issue, which confirms, if confirmation were needed, that the whole UEFA issue is enveloped in a political cloud in Madrid.

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