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UEFA sets up commission on Kosovo, Gibraltar participation in 2018 World Cup qualifiers

May 18, 14:11 UTC+3 BASEL
Football federations of Kosovo and Gibraltar were granted membership in the International Association of Football Federations (FIFA) at the organization’s Congress in May
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© Sergei Fadeichev/TASS

BASEL, May 18. /TASS/. The Executive Committee of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) decided to set up a special commission to settle the issue of Kosovo and Gibraltar’s possible participation in qualifiers for 2018 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Vice President Grigoriy Surkis told TASS on Wednesday.

The UEFA Executive Committee held a session on Wednesday in Switzerland’s northwestern city of Basel. Football Federations of Kosovo and Gibraltar were granted membership in the International Association of Football Federations (FIFA) at the organization’s Congress in May.

"The decision concerning Kosovo and Gibraltar’s possible participation in qualifying matches for the 2018 World Cup was not made today," Surkis said in an interview with TASS. "We have set up a special commission to deal with this issue and it is comprised of representatives from various UEFA committees."

"First of all, they will consider the possibility of including Kosovo into UEFA’s club competitions as well as its possible participation in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers," he said. "The most particular attention would be paid that Kosovo has three football stadiums and none of them in line with second category requirements."

The UEFA official said new information on the issue of Kosovo and Gibraltar may appear after the meeting of UEFA representatives before the Champions League’s final match in Italy’s Milano on May 28.

Surkis also said that in case Kosovo and Gibraltar were allowed to take part in the qualifiers they would be added up to two qualifying groups consisting of five nations and Russia would be excluded from its group.

"In case Kosovo and Gibraltar are included, Russia will no longer be the sixth team in the group having an opportunity of playing friendly matches with other members of the group," Surkis said. "If it happens the UEFA management will be dealing with the issue of finding opponents for Russia to play friendlies. This issue is certainly in the competence of UEFA."

A total of nine qualifying groups in the European zone were put together at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Draw last year in St. Petersburg. Two groups, namely Groups H and I, consist of five nations, while the rest of the groups consist of six teams each.

Russia, as the host of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, has already qualified for the global football tournament, however, it was decided at the Draw last summer to add up the Russian team to Group H so it would play two friendlies with each of the group’s members within the qualifying period.

Group H includes national teams from Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Estonia and Cyprus.

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