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Serbia loses appeal against Kosovo’s Uefa membership

The Football Association of Serbia (FAS) has lost an appeal against Kosovo joining Uefa, football’s European governing body.

The appeal was rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which ruled that Kosovo met Uefa’s entry standards, because it is “recognised by the majority of the United Nations member states as an ‘independent state.’” Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008 – a move that the latter rejected.

Serbia had argued that Kosovo, which is not a member of the United Nations, should not be allowed to join Uefa. The governing body’s member associations voted 28-24 in favour of accepting Kosovo in May 2016. Kosovo then joined Fifa one week later and has been fast-tracked into the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.

In October, Ukraine hosted Kosovo in Poland, because the former’s government does not recognise Kosovo’s statehood.

“The CAS panel in charge of this matter noted that FAS had both standing to sue in this matter and reasonable cause to file its appeal, considering that the relevant provision of the Uefa Statutes was ambiguous and required clarification,” CAS said. “Such provision states that membership of Uefa is open to national football associations situated in the continent of Europe, based in a country which is recognised by the United Nations as an independent state.

“Considering that there is no formal recognition of countries by the UN, the CAS panel interpreted… Uefa statutes as meaning that the territory in which the football federation is located shall be recognised by the majority of the UN member states as an ‘independent state.’ The CAS panel found that this prerequisite was fulfilled… and that such conclusion was also in line with the will expressed by the majority of the member federations at the Uefa congress.”