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Football: GSLP-Liberals accuse Spain of heavy involvment in ensuring Gibraltar's UEFA rejection

* Buhagiar thanks Wales, Scotland and Eire for support

GSLP-Liberals has said that the admission of the GFA into UEFA would be good for the development of football in Gibraltar in its own right, and consistent with “our right as a separate people with our own identity in terms of international recognition.” In a statement issued yesterday they also accuse the Spanish Government of “hypocrisy, double-standards and manipulation,” in claiming that the rejection of the GFA bid to join UEFA, is the result of the application by the international community of established rules.

Meanwhile the Gibraltar Football Association has clarified that the English Football Association did not vote in favour of their application for membership, as was incorrectly claimed by the GSLP on Friday. “The associations which supported our application by show of hands were Scotland, Republic of Ireland and Wales,” Albert Buhagiar GFA vice-president declared yesterday.

A GSLP-Lib spokesman said: “The Spanish Foreign Ministry have said that they are “very happy” that the Gibraltar Football Association was not admitted into UEFA. This is hardly surprising since the outcome has been the result of the action orchestrated under instructions from them.”

“The parallel with their conduct at the United Nations is obvious. Having lobbied at the UN to get South American countries and others to side with them, they then proclaim that the result was the “doctrine” of the international community, when in fact it is no more than the “doctrine” of the Spanish Government on Gibraltar’s decolonisation which they continue to subscribe to.

In this case, the Spanish Foreign Minister Moratinos has said that the decision by UEFA was a consequence of the full application of its existing rules. It is clear that Sr Moratinos does not know what he is talking about.”

“The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) delivered a judgment which bound UEFA to consider Gibraltar’s application for membership, not in the context of their existing rules, but in the context of the rules that existed at the time when Gibraltar applied. It is well known that when Gibraltar applied, we were perfectly entitled to membership of UEFA in the same way as territories like the Faroe Islands which are not recognised by the United Nations. The rules were changed subsequent to our application in 2001 precisely to ensure that Gibraltar was not eligible for membership.

“The fact that the Spanish Ambassador to Belgrade met with the Serbian Football Association to lobby for a vote against Gibraltar, is indicative of the extent to which Spanish diplomatic pressure has been exerted against Gibraltar. It is deplorable that the UK did not see it fit to counterbalance the campaign by Spain. Indeed, it has now emerged that the even the English FA did not support Gibraltar.”

“It is also complete nonsense for the Spanish to have argued that the accession of Gibraltar would have opened the floodgates to regions of Europe to apply. This is nothing less than deliberate scare-mongering. Any region of Europe that applied for membership after 2001 is not eligible under the present statutes of UEFA.

The difference is that Gibraltar applied before the rule change and that its application was eligible at the time.”“We firmly believe that the admission of the GFA into UEFA would be good for the development of the sport in Gibraltar in its own right, and is entirely consistent with our right as a separate people with our own identity in terms of international recognition.

We will therefore continue to give our wholehearted support at every possible level to the GFA until the objective is achieved. The smug comments made by the Spanish Foreign Ministry and the Spanish media against Gibraltar will come back to haunt them.”

GOMEZ SUPPORTS NUNEZ New Gibraltar Democracy leader Charles Gomez has said he would like to join the whole of Gibraltar in thanking the GFA and “in particular its president Joey Nuñez,” for their brave efforts in the campaign for our football association to be given UEFA membership.

Mr Gomez said: “Thanks are also due to the UK football associations for their support. Unfortunately, the GFA have learnt the hard way that internationally, the “beautiful game” is run by a far from attractive combination of vested interests in both financial and political terms.” “

NGD calls upon the GFA to continue to focus on improving the sport of football locally for the benefit of players, particularly the young. In recent weeks the football teams of places of similar population to Gibraltar have been mentioned many times, namely San Marino, Andorra and Monaco. All those territories have achieved notable triumphs in the field.

Since Gibraltar will not now be competing under UEFA the GFA must work hard at arranging regular fixtures with teams from neighbouring countries such as Spain, Portugal and Morocco and try to get as many UK teams to train here as possible. Government support for this will be required.”“The UEFA rejection should not be seen as a fatal blow to local football but a challenge for the GFA to redouble its efforts to put Gibraltar on the footballing map.”

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