A new addition to the Uefa family

Gary Pritchard

Gary Pritchard

Friday, 24 May 2013, 16:32

A quick quiz question for you; in terms of Welsh international football, what have Andorra, Kazakhstan, Lithuania and Macedonia in common?

The answer is that these four are the only Uefa members Wales are yet to play in a full international match.

Of course, Macedonia will disappear from the list when Chris Coleman’s side travel to Skopje in September for the 2014 World Cup Qualifying Match.

But as of Friday afternoon, a new name needs to be added to the list, that of Gibraltar.

At the 37th Uefa Congress in London, Uefa associations voted with what was described by Uefa President, Michel Platini, as a “definite majority” to accept the British Overseas Territory as its 54th member.

It is 14 years since the Gibraltar Football Association first applied to become members of Europe’s footballing family but their application has always been fiercely opposed by Spain.

At the Uefa Congress in 2006 just three associations; England, Scotland and Wales, supported their application with Spain leading the calls against their admittance threatening to boycott any competition in which Gibraltar competed.

The governing body, under pressure from the Spanish, subsequently changed their membership rules to admit only sovereign states recognised by the United Nations.

But the GFA refused to give in and following an appeal, the Swiss based Court of Arbitration for Sport decided the new rules could not apply to Gibraltar as they had applied for membership prior to their introduction.

Despite Spain’s continued opposition, enough hands went into the air in the plush surroundings of the Grosvenor Hotel on Friday lunch time to ensure that Gibraltar were welcomed as the newest members of the family.

They will now take their place in the Euro 2016 qualifying competition and should Wales come out of the hat to face Gibraltar, they need not look too far for someone with experience of facing the boys from the Rock.

The FAW’s Technical Director, Osian Roberts, was once manager of Ynys Môn’s Island Games football team who regularly faced Gibraltar in the biennial Island Games.

Incidentally, as a Monwysyn (that’s somebody from Anglesey) local pride insists I tell you that in four meetings between both sides, Ynys Môn have won three, losing just once!

It’s also worth noting that Gibraltar are the second team to progress from the Island Games Association to full Uefa membership, the first being the Faroe Islands who won the Gold medal at the first two Island Games tournaments.

Again, local pride means I should point out that Ynys Môn took the silver medal on both occasions!

So for those football fans who look forward to ticking off grounds and countries they visit – and there are plenty of us – the draw for the Euro 2016 qualfiers has an added dimension.

And for those of us who live on Ynys Môn we can be proud that our island has a great record against a team which is now a full member of Uefa!