Jersey football has been talking for many years, and particularly over the past 12 months, about joining Europe’s ruling body.
But Gibraltar’s march towards being named the 53rd member of UEFA’s footballing family – despite the objections of Spain – is unlikely to smooth the way for the Island to join.
Gibraltar yesterday won their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, against Spain’s ‘political’ objections to their application to join Europe’s top table.
Their application for full membership of UEFA will now go towards the association’s full membership at the next congress.
But the Court of Arbitration has decreed: ‘The executive committee of UEFA is ordered to admit to provisional membership of UEFA the Gibraltar FA at its next executive committee meeting’.
And that is early next month.
The application is expected to be successful and as well as allowing club teams into the early rounds of the UEFA Cup it would pave the way for the tiny peninsula’s national side to take part in qualifying for Euro 2012.
Although both the Jersey and Gibraltar FAs do have much in common, such as having been in existence for over 100 years and an affiliation to the Football Association, the main difference to their probable immediate destinies re Europe is one of timing.
Since 2004 countries applying to join UEFA have to be recognised as independent by the United Nations, but since Gibraltar’s application precedes that date it has been allowed through.
The president of the Jersey FA, Ricky Weir, said this morning that he was more encouraged than discouraged over the news.
‘I take it as a positive that an association similar to ours looks like being accepted.
It does not change our position, which is to open dialogue with UEFA, through the Football Association.’ Jersey, with a population three times that of Gibraltar, have met in Island Games competition before, most memorably in the 1995 semi-final on Gibraltar’s plastic pitch, when a packed crowd roared the home side to a 1-0 victory.