Kosovo and Gibraltar join FIFA ahead of 2018 World Cup qualifying after being voted in as the 210th and 211th members of the football family during the 66th FIFA Congress in Mexico City.
Despite the strong opposition by Serbia and Spain respectively, the huge majorities Kosovo and Gibraltar received – 86 percent and 93 percent respectively – represent huge victories for the two who will now prepare to take part in the European Qualifiers leading to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Spain has strongly opposed Gibraltar’s progress towards FIFA membership, forcing them to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to move the process along. On the other hand, Serbia refuses to recognize Kosovo’s declaration of political independence in 2008. At the UEFA Congress in Budapest last week, Kosovo’s bid for membership was only narrowly approved by 28 votes to 24.
The draws for 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers were held last July with the 52 participants being drawn into seven groups of six teams and two groups of five. A draw will now determine which group of five will Gibraltar and Kosovo join.
The teams in these two groups are:
Group H – Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Estonia, Cyprus
Group I – Croatia, Iceland, Ukraine, Turkey, Finland
Malta will be playing in Group F along with England, Slovakia, Scotland, Slovenia and Lithuania.