Gibraltar Football Association
|Headquarters||World Trade Center, Gibraltar|
|FIFA affiliation||13 May 2016|
|UEFA affiliation||24 May 2013|
|President||Michael Llamas, KC|
The Gibraltar Football Association or also Gibraltar FA (GFA) is the governing body for Gibraltarian football and futsal. It was formed as the Gibraltar Civilian Football Association in 1895, changing to its current name in later years. It is one of the oldest football associations in the world. From October 2012, the GFA were provisional members of UEFA and the Gibraltar national futsal team, under-19 and under-17 representative teams participated in the 2013/14 UEFA season competitions. At the XXXVII UEFA Congress held in London on 24 May 2013, Gibraltar was accepted as a full member of UEFA. Gibraltar were admitted to FIFA as a full member on 13 May 2016 at the 66th FIFA Congress in Mexico.
The GFA was formed as an increasing number of football clubs were coming into existence in Gibraltar, and the association was designed to bring some form of organisation to the game there. Between the association's formation and 1907 the only football competition in Gibraltar was the Merchant's Cup. However, in 1907 the GFA established a league to complement the existing cup competition.
By 1901 the GFA had established a representative national team, competing against British military teams. This representative team continued to play down the years, their highlight probably being a draw against Real Madrid in 1949.
The GFA affiliated with The Football Association in 1909, and became a full member of FIFA in 2016 allowing its national team to compete in all international competitions. This attempt was met with fierce opposition from the Royal Spanish Football Federation but was ratified on 13 May 2016 at the 66th FIFA Congress in Mexico.
The GFA's application to become a member of FIFA was filed in 1997. Two years later, FIFA confirmed the opening of the procedure and forwarded the GFA application to the appropriate continental confederation, UEFA, since according to FIFA statutes it is the responsibility of confederations to grant membership status to applicants. In 2000, a joint delegation of UEFA and FIFA conducted an inspection on the GFA's facilities and infrastructure. The Spanish FA strongly opposed the GFA's application. In 2001, UEFA changed its statutes so that only associations in a country "recognised by the United Nations as an independent State" could become members. On such grounds, UEFA denied the GFA's application.
Current FIFA and UEFA members include several federations which cannot be said to represent independent nations, such as the UK Home Nations (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales), the Faroe Islands, Guam, Hong Kong, Macau, New Caledonia, Puerto Rico, Tahiti (French Polynesia) and Chinese Taipei. French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Saint Martin each have national teams which, despite not being FIFA members, are allowed to compete at the CONCACAF confederation level. FIFA has also accepted members from other British overseas territories who compete in FIFA World Cup qualification tournaments despite not being sovereign states, including Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat and Turks and Caicos Islands.
The GFA appealed to the world's highest sporting court, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which in 2003 ruled that the GFA application should be handled according to the old statute. However, UEFA continued to refuse accepting the GFA as member. In August 2006, the CAS ruled again that Gibraltar had to be allowed as a full UEFA and FIFA member, and on 8 December 2006, it was announced that Gibraltar had become a provisional member of UEFA.
However, full membership required a vote of the UEFA membership. Leading up to this vote, the Spanish football federation lobbied against Gibraltar's membership. The Federation's president Ángel María Villar attributed Spain's opposition to the Spanish claim over Gibraltar. He also claimed it was a political issue and referred to the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713. On 26 January 2007 at the UEFA Congress held in Düsseldorf (Germany), Gibraltar's application to become a full member of UEFA was rejected, with 45 votes against, 3 in favour (namely, England, Scotland and Wales), and 4 undecided.
UEFA and FIFA membership approved
On 21 March 2012 the request for full UEFA membership by Gibraltar was discussed again, and a road map which includes financial and educational support from UEFA was agreed. This road map was to run until the Ordinary UEFA Congress in 2013, when member associations would vote on the request for admission. UEFA's Executive Committee admitted the GFA as a provisional member as of 1 October 2012, pending a vote at its Congress in May 2013 to make it a full member.
After the vote at the UEFA Congress held in London on 24 May 2013, Gibraltar was accepted as a full UEFA member. A vote was carried out, a clear majority was found to have voted to admit Gibraltar to UEFA. Two national associations; Belarus and Spain voted against the proposal.
Gibraltar became the smallest UEFA member by population, behind San Marino, then Liechtenstein and the Faroe Islands. Following the example of Armenia and Azerbaijan, and Russia and Georgia it was confirmed that Gibraltar and Spain would be kept apart in qualifying groups for the European Championship (the Euros).
As part of the celebrations for the GFA's achievement, a 54p stamp was issued by the Gibraltar Philatelic Bureau commemorating the association becoming the 54th member of UEFA.
On 13 May 2016, Gibraltar was accepted as a member of FIFA with a vote of 172 to 12 in favour. Gibraltar became FIFA's 211th member immediately after the Football Federation of Kosovo was voted member 210.
- "FIFA welcomes Kosovo, Gibraltar as newest members". The Statesman. 14 May 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
- "Gibraltar close in on Uefa place". BBC. 8 December 2006. Retrieved 22 September 2008.
And in 2000, the Spanish Football Federation said it radically opposed Gibraltar's membership of the organisation and would refuse to take part in any competition which involved the colony.
- Paradinas, Juan Jose (20 August 2000). "El apoyo del Gobierno y de los partidos". El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 4 July 2015.
- "BBC News | EUROPE | Spain warns UEFA on Gibraltar issue". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
- Arbitration CAS 2002/O/410 The Gibraltar Football Association (GFA)/Union des Associations Européennes de Football (UEFA), award of 7 October 2003 Archived 7 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- Sparre, Kirsten (8 September 2006). "Gibraltar to become member of UEFA despite Spanish resistance". playthegame.org. Archived from the original on 26 October 2007. Retrieved 22 September 2008.
This happened after pressure from Spain which still claims sovereignty over Gibraltar after it was ceded to Britain under the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. It refuses to recognise Gibraltar and there is an edict from the Consejo Superior de Deportes to all sports federations in Spain that they should block any membership application from organisations in Gibraltar.
- "Gibraltar's bid fails 'through political pressure from Spain'". Panorama. 26 January 2007. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 22 September 2008.
Villar said that "it is a political issue and since 1713 we have not found a political solution to this situation, because it is so difficult to resolve."
- "Platini wins tight UEFA ballot". Reuters. 26 January 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
- "Bidding process for UEFA EURO 2020 decided". UEFA. 21 March 2012. Archived from the original on 13 September 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
- Bakowski, Gregg (1 October 2012). "Gibraltar national team made provisional member of Uefa". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
- Lafuente, Javier (24 May 2013). "Gibraltar mete gol a España (Gibraltar scores a goal against Spain)". El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 25 May 2013.
- "Gibraltar given full Uefa membership at London Congress". BBC Sport. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
- "Gibraltar, 54th Member of UEFA Set - Stamps - 2013 - Gibraltar Philatelic Bureau". www.gibraltar-stamps.com.
- "Fifa: Kosovo and Gibraltar become members of world governing body". BBC Sport. 13 May 2016. Retrieved 19 January 2018.