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Football: Gibraltar's footballers await tomorrow's judgement day as UEFA make their final decision

Gibraltar’s application for full membership of football’s governing body in Europe will be the 16th and final item on the agenda at the 31st UEFA Congress that opens in Dusseldorf today. It will be up to the Congress — Europe’s football parliament, and the supreme controlling organ of UEFA — to ratify membership or reject the application. The result will not be known until tomorrow afternoon.

In answer to questions, sources close to UEFA said that Gibraltar’s application was a “sensitive” issue that had put the organisation “in a difficult spot,” but added that Gibraltar’s Football Association had the legal right to pursue its claim.The Rock obtained provisional membership in December of last year following a CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) ruling to that effect.

UEFA said then that it had no choice but to admit Gibraltar on a provisional basis, but also took note of an unprecedented statement by FIFA that intervened in the matter, saying that the GFA application would be rejected in January because the Rock “did not comply with statutory requirements for admission as a member of FIFA, as it is not a state recognised by the United Nations.”

This is challenged by the GFA on the basis that the rule in question was introduced after Spanish machinations to block their original application, filed in the late 1990’s.

Spain objects to Gibraltar’s admissión since it fears repercussions that Basques and Catalans will move to secede from the Spanish federation and form their own ‘national’ selections.


Meanwhile the sessions will be dominated by elections to the presidency of UEFA where former French star Michel Platini, will be challenging the ageing incumbent Lennart Johansson.

The Gibraltar case is also relevant to the presidency election as Platini has already said that he does not want Gibraltar as a UEFA member. Lennart Johansson, on th eother hand, showed his support for the Gibraltar cause by replying to's petition and ensured that the Executive Committee were made aware of the people of Gibraltar's wishes.

There will also be competition for outgoing posts in the executive committee and for the European seats in the FIFA executive.

Montenegro, who are also provisional members, will also be applying for full membership.

A UEFA spokesman added: “An ordinary Congress is held every year, and is attended by representatives of UEFA’s 52 member associations. The UEFA Executive Committee has the power to make decisions on all matters which do not fall within the legal or statutory jurisdiction of the Congress or any other organ.”

“The UEFA Congress, the UEFA Executive Committee and the UEFA CEO Office within the European body’s administration form the hub of UEFA’s activities at the highest level. It is at these levels that key sporting and political decisions are taken. for the well-being of both UEFA and European football.”

Opposition party PDP yesterday said it backs the GFA application at the UEFA congress.

Spokeswoman Rosemary Peach said: “UEFA meets this week and is expected to take a final view on the GFA’s application for admission to that international football association. The application has wide support across all sectors and groups in our community. Politics should not play any part in the decision as to whether Gibraltar should be allowed to enter into UEFA. However, a common sense and fair approach has not previously been deployed by Spain that has sought to argue the most indefensible points in relation to this matter. It is appalling to note the lengths that Spain is willing to go to, to prevent the GFA’s entry. This is evidenced by recent reports in the press that Spain has purportedly coerced Serbia into voting against Gibraltar’s entry. Whilst this may not surprise anyone, it certainly does not bode well for the newly found so–called climate of new relations between the UK, Spain and Gibraltar and will add nothing positive to local views on the subject.”

“As the GFA have made clear, entry into UEFA is of great importance to the development of football at grass roots level and the application should be analysed dispassionately on its merits and because of the purely sporting benefits it will bring to the local sporting community and their families. The PDP would like to express their full support to the GFA and particularly the GFA President with his presentation at the forthcoming UEFA Congress meeting. The Party very much hopes that politics will be set aside and common sense will prevail.”

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