Football conflicts in the Balkans: From the Isolation

Kosovo is seeking still seeking international recognition. Therefore, the possible qualification for the European championship euphoria triggers. opportunity,

Football conflicts in the Balkans: From the Isolation

Kosovo is seeking still seeking international recognition. Therefore, the possible qualification for the European championship euphoria triggers.

opportunity, perceived: Amir Rrahmani (right) in a duel with England's Harry Kane photo: ap

Many friends were dead, his house in Pristina reduced to rubble. Like hundreds of thousands of compatriots of the football player Eroll Salihu had left Kosovo, he played in the third German League in Wilhelmshaven, made in Barsinghausen his coach ticket. In the news, he followed, as his home at the end of the 1990s, in many Parts was destroyed. 13,000 people died in the war in Kosovo between the Serbian-dominated army of Yugoslavia and the KLA, the "liberation army of Kosovo". Eroll Salihu said: "We have incredibly suffered."

at the Time, he has not thought it possible that the small Kosovo could celebrate twenty years later, perhaps the largest success of its history: to could With two successful Play on Thursday in the Czech Republic and on Sunday at home against England to qualify the national team for the European Championships 2020. "For the game against England we would have been able to loose sell 200,000 Tickets," says Salihu, since 2006, Secretary-General of the Kosovo football Federation. "Unfortunately, we were only awarded almost 14,000. The mood will be wonderful, because the football brings together our country.“

in Order to make the Dimension of success significantly, attracting Eroll Salihu historical lines. In socialist Yugoslavia, the small Kosovo had a special role, for the majority of the population belonged to the Lich Albanians. Whether healthcare, education or high-level Offices: the mostly Muslim Kosovo Albanians were in a multi-ethnic state under-represented.

One of the few places where you can Protest expressed against it, was the stadium of the FC Pristina, the most important clubs in your area. Nevertheless, only the Albanians to the national team: the striker Fadil Vokrri managed in the history of Yugoslavia. "We Albanians have often been regarded as second-class citizens," says the writer Beqë Cufaj, since 2018, the Ambassador of Kosovo in Berlin. "Fadil Vokrri had two to three times better than his colleagues, in order to be in the national team accepted."

The Yugoslav Parliament withdrew the autonomy of Kosovo in 1990. Under President Slobodan Milošević, the Serbian-dominated police was strictly against Kosovo-Albanians, also in football. Kosovar players withdrew from the Yugoslav leagues and built their own structures, with secret, organized tournaments, and smuggled balls from the abroad. "We had a bandage on his own football, which was actually forbidden, and brought us in danger," says Hesse-living tour operators, Remzi Ejupi, the head of the FC Pristina as President. "At the time, we played in remote villages, without changing cabins. The football gave us a lot of strength in this time.“

tensions between the Serbs and the Kosovars resulted in 1998 in the Kosovo war. After the termination of the Nato combat mission in 1999, 80 percent of the refugees returned within a few weeks, soon, Eroll Salihu, he says: "in The beginning it was very hard to structures in the football building. We were isolated.“ Already in 1993, in the national team rarely found opponents for test games, even after the Declaration of independence of Kosovo in 2008.

Kosovo is not yet a member of the United Nations. For anchoring in the international community, the government is committed to global organizations. As a breakthrough, the Kosovars 2014 celebrated their inclusion in the International Olympic Committee, IOC, in 2016, the entry into Uefa and Fifa followed. As the Secretary General of Kosovo's football Association, Eroll Salihu went on the search for national players. "We're in luck," he says. "Many parents have fled the war to Western Europe. And their children now play for our national team.“

Nearly two years had had to ride the Team home games in Shkodra best, in the North of Albania. 2018 was completed in Pristina renovation of the new home. Finally, the national team remained unbeaten for 15 games. In the Nations League, the Uefa, they won their group in the League D. in the EM-qualification enthusiasts with Victories against Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. "In international rankings Kosovo is only in negative topics at the top, in the case of corruption or organised crime," says the Journalist, Eraldin Fazliu of Birn, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network. "Football provides something that is not managed by the policy: It gives the youth hope. And he is one of the few topics that get us abroad.“

Fazliu told that the athletic recovery have left many of the country people in an identity dilemma. How Fazliu, many Kosovars still support today the national team of the neighbouring state of Albania, but slowly the number of red Albanian flags in Pristina. But there is also Trouble: players like Milot Rashica, Herolind Shala, or Alban Meha had already taken part in some of the games for Albania, before they switched to the national team of Kosovo. In Albanian media, they were referred to as traitors.

pressure there is on the other side. Eight percent of Kosovars have Serbian roots. Many of them accept Kosovo as a state, but only as a cultural Hinterland of Serbia. "The Serbian players are under pressure, not against Kosovo to compete," says the British Reporter Jack Robinson from the online medium Prishtina Insight. Repeatedly denied red star Belgrade charity games in the Serbian enclaves of Kosovo. Guests, fans hoisted there, Serbian flags, sang the Serbian anthem and showed a flag of the fictional "greater Serbia".

In June was sacked Ljubiša Tumbaković as the national coach of Montenegro. The Serb had refused to stand against the Kosovo on the side line. Shortly thereafter, he was committed by Serbia as a national team coach. In September, the Kosovo police arrested eight Czech Fans. You wanted to leave the game between Kosovo and the Czech Republic, apparently a drone to rise with the words: "Kosovo is Serbia". Now Kosovo is on the return game in the Czech Republic. Diplomatic complications are not excluded.

Updated Date: 15 November 2019, 01:50

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