Spain Will 'Exhaust All Means' To Prevent Gibraltar From Gaining Full UEFA Membership
Spanish Education, Culture and Sports Minister José Ignacio Wert said that he hoped Gibraltar's provisional admission as part of UEFA "will not become a definitive acceptance," according to EUROPA PRESS. Wert said he was "reasonably" optimistic that "this proportionality will not become a definitive acceptance." He also revealed Spain will "exhaust all means" to prevent Gibraltar from gaining full membership of UEFA (EUROPA PRESS, 10/2). REUTERS' Iain Rogers reported that a decision on "whether to grant full membership" will be taken at a UEFA Congress in London next May. Wert also said that Gibraltar's provisional membership meant it could not yet take part in UEFA competition and revealed his ministry and the foreign ministry "would work to block full membership." Spain claims sovereignty over Gibraltar, which sits at the "southern end of the Iberian peninsula at the entrance to the Mediterranean." Gibraltar's government criticized Spain's opposition to it joining UEFA, saying in a statement "football and all sport should never be allowed to mix with politics" (REUTERS, 10/2).
OBSTACLES TO OVERCOME: The AFP reported that Gibraltar Football Association General Secretary Richard Manning said there were still "quite a few obstacles" to full membership. Manning said that entry to UEFA would be "important to the territory," allowing youth teams in particular to compete against other European teams. The Gibraltar league is made up of six teams in the premier division, "10 in reserves, 12 in the second division, three women's teams, and 47 junior teams from under-sevens to under-16s with about 600 young players" (AFP, 10/2).