3 Oct 2012

Gibraltar bids for footballing independence

6:14 am on 3 October 2012

Gibraltar's football league has won provisional entry into European football's governing body UEFA, moving forward in a membership bid that is hotly opposed by Spain.

UEFA's executive committee took the decision at a meeting in the Russian city of St. Petersburg, falling in line with an earlier ruling in Gibraltar's favour by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

A decision on the admission of the Gibraltar Football Association as a full member of UEFA will be taken by the 37th Ordinary UEFA Congress in London in May 2013.

Gibraltar previously won provisional membership of UEFA in December 2006, also after a favourable CAS ruling, only to be turned down a month later by a large majority in a UEFA Congress in Dusseldorf, Germany.

The latest decision to admit Gibraltar on a provisional basis was greeted with joy by Gibraltar, but Spain vowed to fight it by every legal means available.

Spain ceded Gibraltar to Britain in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht but has long argued that it should be returned to Spanish sovereignty.

Britain refuses to do so, against the wishes of Gibraltarians.