January 26, 2007 / 2:00 PM / 12 years ago

UEFA admits Montenegro

DUESSELDORF (Reuters) - UEFA admitted Montenegro as its 53rd full member on Friday but Gibraltar’s 10-year campaign to gain acceptance ended in failure.

The Serbia & Montenegro Football Association was disbanded in June 2006 following the political split between the two republics.

Friday’s acceptance of Montenegro into UEFA had been widely expected and the proposal was carried unanimously.

After the vote the Montenegro flag was taken to the stage and held aloft by outgoing UEFA president Lennart Johansson, who had earlier lost his bid for re-election against Michel Platini.

Gibraltar, an overseas territory of Britain on the southern coast of Spain, has been campaigning for membership of FIFA and UEFA since 1997.

It was admitted as a provisional member of UEFA in December following an earlier decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The final decision was left to Congress and the motion was defeated by 45-3 votes.

The territory has no professional players among its population of 28,000.

Spain in particular has been against admitting Gibraltar, over fears that it could undermine the country’s claim on the territory.

POLITICAL PROBLEM

“This is a political problem,” Spanish FA president Angel Maria Villar Llona told delegates in an impassioned speech on Friday.

“There has been no solution to the problem since 1713 either because we have bad politicians or because it’s a difficult situation to resolve. I think it’s the latter.”

Joseph Nunez, the President of the Gibraltar Football Federation, said the fight for official recognition would continue via the courts.

“We are very disappointed, especially with regard to the position of the Executive Committee who informed members not to vote for our application,” Nunez told Reuters:

“They went completely against the CAS judgements of October 2003 and July 2006. The fight will continue in court.”

UEFA accepted a proposal from Scotland and Ireland to undertake a feasibility study into increasing the number of teams competing at European Championship finals from 16 to 24.

The number was last raised from eight to 16 for Euro 96 in England.

UEFA’s national association members approved the accounts for 2005-06, which showed an increase in revenue to just over 700 million euros ($903.6 million), from 659 million euros ($850.6 million) in 2004-05.

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