April 1 – Spain’s World Cup qualifier against Kosovo on Wednesday may have gone ahead as planned but it was always likely to be embroiled in controversy.
Spain is one of the few countries in Europe that does not officially recognise Kosovo as an independent state related to their own stance on breakaway territories such as Catalonia and the Basque region.
In the build-up to Spain’s 3-1 win, a number of Spanish publications refused to print their opponents’ name while public broadcaster TVE used lower-case ‘kos’ and commentators referred to Kosovo as a “territory” or the “team from the Kosovo federation”.
Kosovo were, however, able to sing their national anthem and display their flag after threatening to boycott the qualifier otherwise.
In 2016, FIFA and UEFA recognised the nation’s independence, meaning the Balkan nation could finally take part in competitions. But Spain is now one of just a handful of countries who do not recognise Kosovo as a state, along with China, Russia, Greece, Slovakia and Romania.
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