Court orders FIFA to grant Gibraltar membership

Court orders FIFA to grant Gibraltar membership

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Victoria Stadium, GibraltarFIFA has been ordered by sport’s highest court to accept Gibraltar as a member, opening the national team’s path to play in the 2018 World Cup qualifying program.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said Monday it upheld the Gibraltar soccer federation’s appeal against FIFA blocking entry in 2014, but its panel of judges could not directly grant membership.

“The panel has unanimously ordered that the FIFA Congress take all necessary measures to admit Gibraltar as a full member of FIFA as soon as possible, within the limits of the FIFA Statutes,” the court said in a statement.

It is a second victory for Gibraltar at CAS, after a previous ruling against UEFA meant it could join the European soccer body in 2013.

The latest verdict ruling means Gibraltar could now be fast-tracked into a 2018 World Cup qualifying group which kicks off in September.

The CAS judges insisted that the FIFA ruling council should act quickly. The council, chaired by new FIFA President Gianni Infantino, meets next Monday in Mexico City, four days before the congress has its annual business meeting.

Gibraltar was prevented from joining FIFA before the World Cup qualifying draw made in Russia last July.

At a September 2014 meeting, the FIFA executive committee chaired by Sepp Blatter ruled that Gibraltar’s “requirements for admission to FIFA were not met and that it would not submit the GFA’s application to the FIFA Congress,” CAS said.

A statement from FIFA stated “Following the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) concerning Gibraltar, the FIFA Council is expected to discuss the matter at its next meeting on 9 and 10 May 2016 and decide on the next steps, including a potential request to amend the 66th FIFA Congress agenda in order to submit the Gibraltar FA’s application for FIFA membership.”

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