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FIFA clears Kosovo to play national team matches

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 13, 2014 at 10:43 am •  Published: January 13, 2014

ZURICH (AP) — Kosovo's bid for international recognition was boosted by FIFA on Monday.

Football's world governing body cleared more than 200 member countries to organize friendly matches against national and club teams from the former Yugoslav province.

FIFA said its emergency committee chaired by President Sepp Blatter made the decision after he met last Friday with football leaders from Kosovo and Serbia.

"The decision ... represents a major boost for football development in Kosovo and it once again confirms the extraordinary power of our sport to bring people together," Blatter said in a statement issued by FIFA.

However, national and club teams from countries which made up the former Yugoslavia are currently excluded from the agreement.

Kosovo has used sport to further its international claims since declaring independence from Serbia in 2008. It is recognized by around 100 countries but is not a member of the United Nations.

The Serbian football federation and European football authority UEFA had challenged a previous Blatter-led move in May 2012 to grant playing rights to Kosovo.

FIFA said teams from Kosovo "may not display national symbols (flags, emblems, etc.) or play national anthems." They can "wear or display kit or equipment bearing the name 'Kosovo'" and a star symbol.

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