Monday, October 29, 2007

Can Kosovo play the game?

Sport is one bright side of the after-war period in Kosovo. It is also one of the few things that has made the most gains and maintained those throughout the years. Mind you, it has not been an easy road, but it just seems that when it comes to sports, the exuberance is unsurpassed in other fields of life.

Sport is the only field of life that has transpired the ethnic divisions on the national level. For example, you have a basketball club from the northern, Serb part of Mitrovica playing the team in the southern, Albanian part. Basketball and other sports matches are pretty much all the interaction that the two ethnicities get there, despite living a bridge apart from each other. Other basketball and football teams incorporate players from Bosnia, Croatia, Albanian, Montenegro, and Macedonia on top of the sport powerhouse nations such as the United States. The girls of my hometown handball team recently got the chance to play a team from Serbia. Imagine the cathartic event considering that out of a couple of thousands of Serbs before the war, none lives there today, and that, hundreds of Albanians are still missing and many others were found in mass graves in Serbia.

Kosovars care deeply about sports with all the major championships and leagues broadcast and followed religiously. Pick up any newspaper or TV program schedule and you will see what I mean.

That is why the current isolation of Kosovar sport is unacceptable. Rather than finding reasons to keep Kosovo’s sports teams from international participation, relevant authorities should look instead in ways to make it possible. The fact that Kosovo is not independent yet does not carry much water because many other regions with unique identities such as Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the Faroe Islands have been participating in international competitions without second thoughts. Moreover, whatever form Kosovo status resolution takes in the future, it is understood even by Serbia’s own admission that Kosovo will be able to represent itself in international sporting events.

But we do not have to and should not go that deep into the murky water of politics. We only have to consider those cheese video spots you get during sporting events: sport is a major force for good and it can makes friends out of enemies. I know this because I have seen it in the last eight years in Kosovo.

Don't let sport become a victim of politics. Just let Kosovo play!


(In response to Can Kosovo play the game article published on the Play the Game 2007 Conference coverage website.)

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Owen said...

Sport's always been affected by politics but I suppose Kosovan sport is entitled to be as drug-infested, money-raddled and ego-driven as anyone else's sport.

WARchild said...


Soccer is problematic in that regard, but not the rest of the sports. Especially in Kosovo, the stakes are not that high in most of the sports.

Anonymous said...

Let Kosovo join UEAF, FIFA and Olympics under the name:


No problem!

Greetings from Western Europe to this piece of Serbian soil!

Anonymous said...

Given the Gibraltar F.A's application to UEFA being deemed the last non-independent state to be accepted as a member, it looks unlikely that Kosova will get anywhere before the status is settled. It's a shame since there is a far greater tradition of football in Kosova than on the aforementioned Anglo-Spanish rock and also than in other existing UEFA members like the Faroe Islands, San Marino and Andorra. One must also wonder whether a members' club exists in so much as Wales, Northern Ireland, England and Scotland having (quite rightly) their own representative teams yet Kosova being refused.

It'll come sooner or later though.

Take care,

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