The Basque Football Federation Hopes To Start Competing Internationally In Early 2019
The Basque Football Federation made history on Wednesday when they voted in favor of applying for membership with FIFA and UEFA. It will not be easy, but the Federation will now begin the process of becoming internationally recognized which would allow the Basque National Team to compete in tournaments alongside others such as Spain. Federation President Luis María Elustondo spoke later that day on Fuera de Juego highlighting the magnitude of the decision.
“What has happened today is important”, he said. “We have the right to express ourselves, to give our opinion. It is often common for only a few people to come to the assemblies when these occur on weekdays. Today’s attendance, in any case, has been slightly higher than others. We normally don’t even vote because things are usually unanimously accepted. Today was an exceptional circumstance. In all my six years there has not been a single vote until today. Now we are closer to becoming official, but we aren’t in a hurry. It won’t be a quick process, it will be slow. Slowly but surely. This is not urgent because it isn’t possible to be urgent, so we must have patience.”
The first step of the process will be obtaining an endorsement from the Spain Federation, which won’t be easy. However, Elustondo went on to reveal that he has been in constant contact with RFEF President Luis Rubiales. He says that Spain aren’t happy about the decision, but that they at least understand.
“I have had constant contact with the RFEF. Rubiales knows of the existence of this assembly and knows the sensibilities of the Basque people. The RFEF have been informed and although they aren’t too satisfied with this proposal, but they aren’t categorically against it either. We don’t have the approval of Luis Rubiales, but we do have his understanding.”
At the end of the interview Elustondo stated that the next step is to pursue legal advice on how to proceed from this point. He highlighted others who have made this decision and said that the goal is for Euskal Selekzioa to be able to play internationally within the first three months of 2019.
“The next step is to submit the request in writing. Next we will analyze, meet with the Board of Directors, and talk with legal services to see the procedures that we must carry out. We will have a quiet Christmas and from there we will start working. Our situation is similar to that of the Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Kosovo. I think those situations will be adapted to the sensitivity that we have in Euskadi. We are working for the main men’s and women’s teams to be able to play in the first semester of 2019. At the moment we can’t proceed with anything, but we are working on the process.”
As Luis Maria Elustondo already stated, this will not be an easy process. The Basque Federation will first have to get approval from Spain before proceeding to FIFA and UEFA. If the RFEF refuse the issue could be disputed in international court. The process has officially begun and it will take some time, but if everything goes as planned the Basque National Team could be competing on the international stage at some point in the near future.