Kosovo Bans Serbian Team from Match in North

Kosovo authorities on Wednesday banned a football match from taking place in the disputed Serb-dominated north of the country between Serbian club Red Star and a local team, Trepca, which it does not recognise, after calling it a "serious provocation".

"We will not allow it [the match] because in that case all sporting principles, respective statutes and the state's territorial integrity would be violated," the Secretary General of the Kosovo Football Federation, FFK, Eroll Salihu, told BIRN.

Serbian media reported that the Serbian players had already arrived on the Serbia-Kosovo border crossing at Jarinje but were not allowed to enter Kosovo by a strong Kosovo Police presence.

The head of the Serbian government Office for Kosovo, Marko Djuric, said Kosovo had no right to ban players from entering what he called Serbia's southern province; Serbia does not recognise Kosovo's independence, proclaimed in 2008.

"By trying to install an iron curtain between central Serbia and our southern province, Pristina is choosing the road of self-isolation," he said, calling also for Kosovo to be ejected from FIFA and UEFA.

Serbian news agency Tanjug said the head of the main Serbian party in Kosovo, Goran Rakic, and the Assistant Director of the Serbian Office for Kosovo, Petar Petkovic, were waiting at Jarinje to welcome the Red Star team.

Ahead of the decision by the Kosovo authorities to ban the match, the FFK condemned plans by its Serbian counterpart to organise a competitive match without its permission. The FFK says it has never registered Tepca as a team.

"We also call on Kosovo's institutions and law enforcement organisations to address this issue with urgency and take necessary measures in order to protect the FFK's integrity,"...

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