The Executive Committee of European soccer's ruling body said in a statement they had "no choice" but to allow Gibraltar provisional membership following an earlier decision by CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, in July.
Spain has rigorously opposed Gibraltar's membership application which will be further discussed by UEFA's Congress in January.
FIFA, world football's governing body, said this week Gibraltar did not meet the statutory requirements of nationhood to become a FIFA member.
"Furthermore, the UEFA executive committee has also taken note of the decision of the FIFA executive committee, according to which the GFA 'does not meet the statutory requirements to become a FIFA member'."President of the Gibraltar FA, Joseph Nunez, told BBC Sport he was delighted with the outcome but still angry with Spain's continuing opposition.
"We've campaigned 10 years for this, although I was always sure the decision would be a positive one," he said.
"Unfortunately, Spain have taken a political rather than a sporting stance over this matter. A few years back they said they would not compete in competitions that we would take part in, but that's just stupid."
"I hope we get full membership, but I'm sure the Spanish FA will press other members to vote against Gibraltar."
Congress to decide
A final decision on Gibraltar will be delivered at the XXXI Ordinary Congress in Dusseldorf on 25 and 26 January next year, when the member associations will be asked to vote on whether both Gibraltar and Montenegro should gain full membership. Speaking at a press conference today, UEFA Chief Executive Lars-Christer Olsson said: "It is up to Congress to decide whether they agree to bring in Gibraltar as a permanent member of UEFA or not."
SportGibraltar.com notes that:
There are 193 internationally recognized countries, but there are 207 FIFA Football Associations.
The first football associations were established in the United Kingdom: England (1863), Scotland (1873) Wales (1876) and Northern Ireland (1880) (Gibraltar's 1895). These four associations enjoy the historic right to be members of FIFA, although they do not represent sovereign nations. That explains why the UK doesn't have a team - it's 4 constituent countries are members anyway because they started it all off.
Most of the other associations that do not represent a UN member are FIFA members on the basis of Article 10, Paragraph 6 of the FIFA statutes. It states: 'A football association representing a territory that has not yet gained independence may apply for FIFA membership if it has the authorization of the association of the country to which this territory belongs. For example, the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic are part of the Kingdom of Denmark. To form their own national team, the islanders needed the approval of the Danish football association. The latter endorsed the plan in 1988, enabling the Faroe Islands to become a FIFA member. FIFA's latest addition arrived in September 2005: East Timor and the Comoros became member's No. 206 and 207 of the FIFA football family, with Montenegro expected to become the 208th member.
There are only 8 UN countries that are not members of FIFA. These are the United Kingdom, Monaco, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Tuvalu.
So, those who feel that it's wrong for some countries to be in the FIFA World Cup when they are 'just' territories rather than internationally recognised countries have missed the point. The World Cup is a challenge run by FIFA for FIFA Associations, according to FIFA rules. It's not run by the UN or by geographers and should certainly not be run by politicians with their nationalist, political agendas.
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