A makeshift football pitch in Kosovo.
To most people Kosovo is a complete unknown in terms of football. However they have made their mark on this year’s World Cup. The tiny nation managed to make the news recently when one of its league teams offered ‘asylum’ to Luis Suarez after he was banned for 4 months. FIFA and UEFA do not officially recognise Kosovo so Suarez was offered the chance to play there for the duration of his ban. It is not known if Suarez will take up the offer…
As for Kosovar players well there are a number of them actually taking part in Brazil.
Just before the World Cup started Manchester United wonderkid Adnan Januzaj was invited to pledge his alliegance to Kosovo but declined and instead opted for Belgium. Elsewhere you have Valon Behrami, Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka all representing Switzerland but all are from Kosovo. Shaqiri actually takes his heritage very seriously. He says himself “I am Kosovar Albanian” and you will see on his boots that he has three flags stitched into the leather (Switzerland, Albania and Kosovo)
Despite losing some of their best players to more established nations, Kosovo have managed to break down some barriers and have made history recently by playing their first ever international match. Due to them not being recognized by FIFA or UEFA they did still need permission from these bodies to play an official game. They were offered it on the basis that no flags were to be displayed and that no national anthems were to be sung. The Kosova FA agreed to this and after selling out their first match within a few hours they went on to record their first ever result. A 0-0 draw with Haiti. Well, we all have to start somewhere.