I am the last person in the world to counts their chickens before they have hatched. Indeed even when hatched I wonder if they could pop back in to their shells. However it is looking increasingly likely that Gibraltar will be admitted to UEFA next May. I say that with caution because it is Spanish chickens we are counting here and they have been known to give you a nasty peck when you least expect it.
The reason for my optimism comes from Ireland. Jim Boyce is a vice president of FIFA, the world governing body of the beautiful game. He has been speaking to the British tabloid The Sun about Gibraltar’s admittance to UEFA. He believes Gibraltar will be admitted as it has the law on its side in a favourable judgement given by the Court of Arbitration in Sport.
The FIFA chief Sepp Blatter has made it clear he does not favour Gibraltar’s admittance to UEFA and he has no intention of opening the door to his organisation. FIFA can block our membership as Gibraltar is not recognised at the UN as a nation. UEFA now has the same rule but it was added after Gibraltar applied for membership so doesn’t count. As you probably know Sepp is thick with Spain’s representatives and said he will back Madrid’s candidate to host the Olympics – he has a vote as he also sits on the IOC – but is seemingly powerless to act against Gibraltar.
I have always argued that this time around Spain would find it harder to block Gibraltar’s admittance, which we now hold on a provisional basis. The Spanish FA will try and twist arms hard ahead of the vote but as Boyce points out I doubt if many national football associations want to defy the court.
Boyce will be present when UEFA meets for its 37 th Ordinary Congress in London in May 2013 but he will be there as a FIFA observer and can’t vote. It will be then that UEFA members will vote on whether to adopt Gibraltar as a full member. However on Wednesday Gibraltar went in to the draw for next year’s Under 17 and 19 Championships: so what happens if the vote doesn’t go through in Gibraltar’s favour – are our kids then kicked out? Obviously that is what Spain would like but on this occasion the ball is not in their court – its with the Court of Arbitration in Sport where this game will head back to if we are not admitted.
It was at the start of October that the executive committee of UEFA meeting in St Petersburg in Russia admitted the Gibraltar FA to its ranks on a provisional basis ahead of the formal vote in May. Naturally Spain played Russian roulette and opposed the move but in London the Spanish FA could shot itself in the foot whilst Gibraltar scores a triumph at Wembley. Game on – as they say!