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ESPN FC Posted by ESPN staff
Sep 4, 2013

Kosovo protests over visa issues

The Kosovan Football Federation (FFK) has called for FIFA to intervene after a player from the country was refused entry to Russia for a Europa League match.

The FFK argue that St Gallen midfielder Kristian Nushi was denied a visa for the away game at Spartak Moscow last month given the political differences between Russia and Kosovo.

A statement addressed to president Sepp Blatter read: "We all know your support and FIFA's support to ensure the right for Kosovo football in spite of political obstruction.

"It is clear, however, that your mediation is more than even necessary to find solutions. The injustice imposed on Kristian Nushi constitutes a dangerous precedent and demonstrates the unfair treatment of Kosovo football as well as the need to reaffirm the supremacy of sport over political criteria."

It is not the first time Kosovan footballers have had logistical issues, with two players from Albanian club Kukes, who have Kosovan passports, refused visas to travel to Ukraine in August for a Europa League qualifier against Metalurh Donetsk.

Those players navigated the problem by claiming Albanian nationality, but the FFK believes FIFA should not allow Kosovan players to be denied the right to play and slammed UEFA's inaction.

"The FFK and the whole Kosovo football community... remained shocked by the absence of reaction," said the FFK. "This denial constitutes a clear violation based on the "national origin" of the universally respected sport of principle of non-discrimination as enshrined in the Olympic Charter, the FIFA statutes and UEFA statutes.

"This silence contrasts starkly with the positions adopted by other international federations and/or European confederations."

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