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Kosovo, the national team where there are no Kosovo players yet


The team facing the selection, whose country is not recognized with Spain, has been playing officially since 2016.

The Kosovo players, during their training in Seville.EFE
When there are thousands of dead, many of them still unburied, all the product of a war, football is an absurd thing. But, after the years, the governments of the newborn countries put all their efforts to be recognized not only by international organizations (ONU, UE, OTAN …), but also, and they put a lot of effort into it, by the big sports organizations (IOC and FIFA, mainly). Such was the case of the authorities of Kosovo, that once obtained, even partially, the first (there are around 100 countries that have recognized their independence, proclaimed unilaterally in 2008), they took pains to get the second.

The reasons are easy to guess. Sport, and in Europe more specifically football, are a great vehicle to establish a process like the one experienced by the former Serbian territory. Therefore, barely three months passed between the declaration of independence (February 17, 2008) and the request to FIFA to be able to have their own national team (May 6 of that same year).

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That spring day began a process that places the first friendly match of the rival from Spain on a cool night in March 2014. The chosen rival, Hait. And the result, a boring 0-0 draw. It is true that history speaks of other previous friendlies of a handful of Kosovar players mainly against Albania, but the first completely official was seven years ago.


Since then, between friendlies and officials, Kosovo has played 41 games, and although the balance is not blushing (14 wins, 8 draws and 19 losses), The truth is that these victories face such peculiar names as Madagascar, Burkina Faso, the Faroe Islands or Malta. We are a very young team, we have our whole lives ahead of us, and our goal is honestly not to qualify for the Qatar World Cup, but to develop Kosovar football, their current coach said yesterday. Bernard Challandes, a 69-year-old Swiss who did not want to talk about politics yesterday. I am a coach and I have been hired to play football, which is what is important to me, not politics. It should be remembered that Spain is one of the most important countries in the world, along with Russia and China, which do not recognize Kosovo.

The selection, as it is, has a peculiarity: none of the 23 summoned from this window are born in an independent Kosovo. Normal, taking into account that the country acquired such a condition in 2008 and that, therefore, the first children already born under that political structure are today 12 or 13 years old. Thus, 90% of all internationals are from other teams. In fact, in order to start walking, FIFA was forced to break one of its sacred rules, the one that says that if someone plays with the absolute of one country, they cannot do it later with another.

So FIFA allowed six footballers to do just that: Amir Rrahmani (a match with Albania), Valon Berisha (20 with Norway), Alban Meha (you are with Albania), Herolind shala (five with Albania), Milot Rashica (two with Albania) and Samir Ujkani (20 with Albania). For the rest, the rest of the players, all of them, or are children of exile, many of their parents had to run away from the hornet’s nest in the Balkans at some point in the 80s and 90s or they have lived the war in the first person. As reflected in a report by the Marca newspaper a few months ago, this is the case of Vedat Muriqui, Lazio forward. He was born in 1994 in Prizren, in an interview he has told how he had to flee his home and seclude himself in a tavern with more than 50 people, sleeping on bottle boxes and with two liters of milk for everyone. He also remembers how the Serbs gave them two hours to leave their home before razing their entire village (Prizren, near Albania).

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