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Football: Shame on UEFA as Gibraltar are denied UEFA membership

The Gibraltar Football Association failed today in its bid to become members of UEFA, the European football governing body.

At a meeting of the UEFA congress held in Dusserdorf (Germany), Gibraltar's application was defeated by 45 votes to 3. There was one abstention.

This will be a harsh setback for Gibraltar which had been campaigning to join UEFA for ten years. It won a court case and was admitted as a provisional member last December. But the Congress had the final word.
It is expected that Gibraltar may resort to further legal action to try and put right what it sees as a wrong.

At the UEFA congress in Dusseldorf, the Gibraltar Football Association secured only the three British votes - from the FA and the Scottish and Welsh associations. The Spanish representative said Spain claimed Gibraltar as Spanish.
GFA president Joseph Nunez told the Congress that their aim was to enhance and develop football in Gibraltar, highlighting that the GFA was one of the ten oldest national associations in the world.
But the Gibraltar application was opposed by Angel Villar, the Spanish federation president. This was that the Spanish government claimed Gibraltar as Spanish. He admitted it was a political issue and referred to the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713.
"But to add insult to injury he said the Spanish federation would provide financial and coaching help to Gibraltar.

The Gibraltar Opposition said in a statement that "it regrets the decision taken by the national associations of UEFA to reject the application for membership of the Gibraltar Football Association. It is clear that the pressure exerted by the Spanish Government directly, and through the Spanish Football Federation has paid off.
The Opposition nonetheless welcomes the support for Gibraltar from the English, Scottish and Welsh Football Associations, who voted in favour of Gibraltar’s membership without being asked to do so by the British Government.

The comments made by the President of the Spanish Football Association Angel Maria Villar add insult to injury. Mr Villar is quoted as having said that “it is a political issue and since 1713 we have not found a political solution to this situation, because it is so difficult to resolve.”
Mr Villar should tell us when exactly in 1713 did the football federation start functioning.

The comments made by the Spanish FA President confirm that the objection to Gibraltar’s membership is for political and not for sporting reasons.

The landslide vote against Gibraltar’s membership is a testimony to the intense lobbying campaign that has been conducted by the Spanish Government and the Spanish football authorities, and reflects the inactivity of the British Government to do anything to counteract it.
The Opposition adds: "It puts paid to any suggestion that Spain’s approach to Gibraltar has changed radically from what it has been in the past and it confirms that we can expect them to do the same as they have done with UEFA on any other issue, which they think adds strength to our claim to be a separate people with our own identity."

The PDP party says it is dismayed to note the initial reports emerging from the UEFA Congress that Gibraltar’s application for membership has been turned down.

Even though the GFA put forward a potent case for membership on purely sporting grounds and had the support of successive rulings from the Court of Arbitration for Sport it appears that, notwithstanding this, Spanish political objections have intervened to frustrate our sportsmen’s reasonable request for membership. There is little of the supposed new climate of warmth and understanding from Spain in their attitude.

The PDP is thoroughly disappointed at this and pledges its continuing support to GFA in any further attempts it makes to overturn an eminently unjust decision.

'Petty Spanish behaviour," says MEP

"This decision is outrageous and just goes to show how UEFA is dominated by politics," said Neil Parrish MEP on hearing the news about the UEFA development.
"Spain has acted like a jealous spoilt child over the application. It should settle its differences on the football pitch, not in the legal and political arena.

"Yet again the citizens of Gibraltar are being made to suffer by the petty, vindictive.

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