Friday, December 8, 2006
UEFA admits Gibraltar as provisional member
NYON, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Gibraltar was admitted as a provisional member of UEFA on Friday.
The Executive Committee of European soccer's ruling body
said in a statement they had 'no choice' but to allow the
disputed territory provisional membership following an earlier
decision by CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, in July.
The statement also pointed out that FIFA, world soccer's
governing body, had determined earlier this week that Gibraltar
'does not meet the statutory requirements to become a FIFA
As a result of Friday's decision, Gibraltar's application
for full membership is now set to be discussed at UEFA's
Congress in Dusseldorf in January.
The application is rigorously opposed by Spain which claims
sovereignty over the British-controlled territory.
UEFA Chief executive Lars-Christer Olsson told a media
conference that the Executive Committee was not in favour of
Gibraltar's full membership but that its hands were effectively
tied by the CAS decision.
'Theoretically we could have said no,' Olsson said.
'But when you have a legal structure which recognises CAS as
the Supreme Court in sporting matters then it would have been
strange to recognise the court but not follow its decision.'
Olsson said it would now be up to UEFA's Congress to have
the final say, adding that Gibraltar would be given a chance to
present its case to the organisation's members.
He warned though that any decision to admit Gibraltar could
have ramifications far beyond the disputed territory.
'This is part of a much bigger matter and could open up all
sorts of political issues such as the Basque or Catalan
questions in Spain or the statutes of the individual states in
'Politically speaking it is a sensitive issue which is why
UEFA wanted to follow FIFA's direction in only allowing members
from fully-recognised countries.'
UEFA changed its rules accordingly in 2001 but the ruling
from CAS noted that Gibraltar's original application had been
made two years earlier.
The court stopped short of ordering automatic full
membership for the territory but said that the Congress should
make its final decision 'on the basis of the rules applicable at
the time of the initial request - and excluding the application
of the rules introduced subsequently.'