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Football: Spain in delaying tactics on Gibraltar's acceptance into UEFA

UEFA has postponed a decision on the provisional membership of the Gibraltar Football Association until December.

New information
At its meeting in Ljubljana, Slovenia, UEFA's Executive Committee decided to further examine the Gibraltar membership case at its next meeting on 7/8 December. "New information has been presented to us by the Spanish Football Federation, concerning the physical facilities around football in Gibraltar," said UEFA Chief Executive Lars-Christer Olsson on Thursday.

No negative effects
No adverse consequences arise through the postponement, as no competitions are scheduled to take place between now and the Executive Committee talks in December. "Since we still have time to take a decision without having any negative effects on Gibraltar, the Executive Committee decided to analyse the information which has come in and postpone its final decision, as well as its decision on a recommendation to the [next] UEFA Congress," Mr Olsson continued.

Up to Congress
"There is a decision [by the Court of Arbitration for Sport] that Gibraltar should be allowed to become a provisional [UEFA] member. It is in any case up to the [UEFA] Congress [in January] to take the final decision on whether Gibraltar should become a member," he added. "For the Executive Committee, it is important to analyse the new evidence which has come in the case."

What the politicians said
Graham Watson, the Liberal Democrats MEP for the South West and Gibraltar, has welcomed the move.
“Gibraltar deserves to have its own football team and the expected decision by UEFA officials this week is yet another step towards Gibraltar being full recognised. UEFA’s decision will reverberate well beyond the footballing world,” he said.

After this week’s meeting, Gibraltar should obtain “provisional membership” of UEFA, with full membership likely to be confirmed next January at UEFA’s 16th Congress in Dusseldorf.

Some years ago the Spanish Football Federation, on instructions from the Spanish Foreign Ministry, threatened UEFA that Spain will not participate in international football tournaments if Gibraltar takes part.

Commenting on the matter, Shadow Minister for Sport Steven Linares said:
“This latest Spanish threat is appalling and shows Madrid are prepared to cut their noses to spite their faces when it comes to Gibraltar. If Spain wants to withdraw it is up to them and they will be the losers. This threat should have no bearing on UEFA’s decision. The executive committee of UEFA meets today and will consider the application for membership of the Gibraltar Football Association, which they are expected to accept. This has to be ratified by the UEFA Congress next year.”

“The Consejo Superior de Deportes confirmed UEFA has been threatened with a Spanish boycott of international tournaments. Not surprisingly, this is shared by the Spanish Foreign Ministry and Football Federation as well.”

“The lengths to which Madrid is prepared to go to keep Gibraltar out of UEFA is unacceptable in the democratic Europe of which we are a part. Under Spanish pressure, UEFA even changed their rules of membership to disqualify Gibraltar after our application had been made. This matter had to be settled in court. The Spanish Government should stop placing obstacles in the way of the international aspirations of Gibraltar’s footballers and stop mixing politics and sport.”

Meanwhile - Montenegro gets acceptance
UEFA's Executive Committee decided to accept the Football Association of Montenegro as a provisional member, following the dissolution of the Football Association of Serbia and Montenegro, and the membership question will now be put to UEFA's next Congress in Dusseldorf in January.

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