Kosovo Football Federation becomes a full member of UEFA.
Kosovo realised full membership at the UEFA Congress on May 3, 2016. Although the political agenda in the Balkans is always important, there is a sporting reason why this news could be substantial for Croatian Football.
Kosovo, as a recognized member of UEFA now faces another decision, one by FIFA, which will most likely confirm the UEFA decision in ten days time, and if this happens, Kosovo should join the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers. The new team on the football horizon could be placed in either group H or group I of the European qualifiers, as those two are only ones with five participants while other seven have six teams in the competition.
As three countries participating in group H, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Greece, and Cyprus have not recognized Kosovo as a sovereign state, it is expected that the new team would join Group I, where the seeded team is Croatia. This would make Croatian plans for qualifying notably more challenging, as Kosovo has a great team, and as a new one it will be placed in an unseeded position.
As a new team, according to the FIFA rules, they can gather players of Kosovo origins even if they played for other national teams in the past. As some star players of that kind play for big European clubs, and in the past they played for Albania and Switzerland dominantly, Croatia could face quite a challenge.
And not to forget a fact known to all Croatians, just as Croatia had a huge motive in the early stages of its statehood, the same can be expected from the Kosovo team. One of the Croatian 1998 World Cup team members, Ardian Kozniku, ex-Hajduk and Dinamo player of Kosovo origins, has told the Croatian media that even though he considers the bronze medal won with Croatia his biggest achievement as an active athlete, he will remember this day as the most important one in his sporting life.