…than it’s deservedly treated to yet another hallmark of all things Kosovo-involved (that is, in addition to bribery for entry):

Kosovo national team cause a stir by posing with guns before first ever international fixture (The Independent, March 7, 2014)


Kosovo fired a blank against Haiti in their 0-0 draw but a picture of them holding handguns at a shooting range has caused quite a stir in neighbouring Serbia

Kosovo created a moment of history this week when they took part in their first ever international football match, having been approved by Fifa as a recognised nation.

They drew the match against Haiti 0-0, but having had their first taste of the international stage, they’ll be gunning for their first victory in their next match.

However, a picture that has emerged of a selection of players posing at a shooting range before the game has caused quite a stir, with reports that an image of them holding guns has gone viral in neighbouring country Serbia.

At a time of great political uncertainty and with eyes in Belgrade looking on, the timing of the picture isn’t the greatest. Saying that, when is the best time to pose with handguns? […]

Another hallmark of Kosovo scandals: It only really causes a stir in Serbia. No one else cares that, for America’s Albanian clients, guns are an appendage that forms in the womb. No one cares, as long as those guns are used only against Serbs and other locals.

Now, on the point of having been “approved by Fifa as a recognized nation,” that was presaged as early as 2012 (’2018 World Cup stadiums approved, Kosovo in‘), so it was — as with all approvals for Kosovo — just a matter of conditioning the Serb side to the next set of reneged-on conditions. That is, the boiling Serbian frog scenario:

Kosovo national team approved for play (Vienna Review, June 17, 2012)

After prolonged reluctance, FIFA approved the participation of the Kosovo national football team in friendly matches with its 208 member countries, but then suspended its decision due to protest from the Serbian Federation.

Behind closed doors at the annual FIFA Congress, held in May in Budapest, President Sepp Blatter announced the initial decision after a vote in which one federation, UEFA, voted against the move.

In a statement on its website, FIFA had announced: “the Executive Committee has given its approval for FIFA member associations to play friendly matches with the Football Federation of Kosovo in accordance with Art. 79 of the FIFA statues.” Article 79 stipulates that non-members of FIFA such as Kosovo may play against members only with the approval of FIFA.

On 25 May, at the end of the week-long Congress, FIFA reversed their decision, announcing that officials from UEFA and Serbia would convene in Zurich on 29 June to clarify the decision on paper.

FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke told the AP, “it’s not recognition of Kosovo as a country, but it’s recognition that it’s a country where you play football.”

How do you like that one? It’s not a country, it’s just a country where you play football.

Oh, and the match last month just had to be played in Mitrovica:

Kosovo To Play First Recognised International Football Match (Isportstimes, March 4, 2014, By Shea Robinson)

Kosovo is only recognised by 23 of the 28 countries in the EU but will play their first FIFA-sanctioned match on Wednesday.

Kosovo will play in their first ever FIFA approved match against Haiti in a game that signals the end of a long and arduous battle to gain recognition in the world of football and the beginning of a new era for the sovereign state. The fixture will be played in the small mining town of Mitrovica, within view of Serbian homes and an area that has a NATO peacekeeping force of over 5,000.

The Kosovo national football team was finally recognised by FIFA in January when Sepp Blatter announced they would be allowed to play international friendlies. However, there were several strings attached - there will be no national anthems, no flags, no national signs or symbols and no matches against any of the other former Yugoslav nations.

[For now.]

…The bigger picture for Kosovo is the hope they will be granted full UEFA and FIFA membership in the future which will allow them to compete in World Cup and European Championships Qualifying. [Bank on it.] Interestingly, if this becomes a reality there will be a whole new set of FIFA rules under review.

[As usual, making over the world for Albanians.]

Kosovo has produced a large talent pool who have gone on to play for Switzerland, Albania and other recognised countries due to their families leaving their homeland. Players such as Bayern Munich’s Xherdan Shaqiri and Napoli’s Valon Behrami will be going to the World Cup with Switzerland but are eligible to play for Kosovo. FIFA will need to determine if these players would be allowed to represent Kosovo if they choose to.

This match is the first step on the road to much bigger things for this football loving nation and the passion is summed up perfectly by striker Albert Bunjaku, who represented Switzerland at the World Cup in 2010 but will play for Kosovo on Wednesday, “We want to send a signal to UEFA and FIFA that we have a right to be part of the football family. We haven’t played a game in two years, but I want everyone to remember: This game will be when Kosovo start on their road to the World Cup after over 25 years of isolation”, he said.

As I’ve asked before, what other group gets talk of all these international memberships before it’s even a country?

As Kosovo is increasingly legitimized through various memberships, those governing bodies should prepare themselves for more and more Albanian “shocks” (recall this one from September). But, as with all things Alban, it’ll all eventually be greeted with a shrug, and the world will — as ever — come to see things the Albanian way, instead of the other way around.