ISSN 2330-717X

Albanian, Kosovo Football Chiefs Plan Joint Cup Honoring Saint Mother Teresa

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The Albanian and Kosovo football federations are pushing UEFA to endorse a new joint football competition named after the revered saint of ethnic Albanian origin, Mother Teresa.

By Jakob Weizman*

Albania’s governing football body, the FSHF, together with Kosovo’s Football Federation, the FFK, has filed a request to UEFA to form a joint a new joint football competition named after the Catholic saint of Albanian origin, Mother Teresa. It will be called the “Mother Teresa Cup”. 

“We haven’t officially launched it [the cup] yet because we still have had no official response from UEFA and FIFA. I believe it will be positive,” FSHF’s head, Armando Duka, said in an interview with Kosovo’s public broadcaster RTK. 

“We have had the ‘Independence’ Cup for some time, in which teams from Albania and Kosovo have participated – but the interest was not great,” he added.

This new competition will feature teams from both countries’ football leagues. However, its future depends on UEFA giving it the green light. 

The Secretary-General of the FFK, Eroll Salihu, told BIRN that the new cup will be a “festival of football, to promote friendship and peace”, highlighting the opportunity for players to display their skills in front of scouts and managers looking for new talent.

“This cup will be massive and will develop throughout the year. The project will be shared with our governments as well. A special fund will be created by both governments and federations,” Agim Ademi, the President of the FFK, said in an interview.

“In addition to the prize that the winner will receive from the federations, there will be an additional bonus from the government,” he noted. 

Ademi and Duka first pitched the idea to UEFA in December, adding that if things go to plan, the cup winner will claim its place in UEFA’s esteemed Europa League competition. Ademi expects the project to be implemented and prepared by next year.

Teams from Kosovo and Albania are already slotted to participate in the cup, hoping for a possibility of playing on Europe’s most decorated football stage.

In the past, teams from Kosovo and Albania were unable to reach the top level of European competition, the UEFA Champions League, or its lower-level competition, the Europa League.

Teams from Kosovo attempted to qualify but without success. One team from Albania, Skënderbeu Korçë, claimed a spot in the Europa League twice in recent years, but did not make it past the group stage.

Serbian media have meanwhile subjected the efforts being made by both countries’ federations to hostile scrutiny.

Media outlet Alo.rs reported the news of the potential competition with the provocative headline, “Albania and Kosovo start organizing Cup to honour ‘Angel of Hell.’” Another Serbian media outlet, Blic, reacted to the news with an article titled in upper case, “ODAKLE SAD OVO?” meaning, “Where did this come from now?”

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Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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