The Gibraltar FA (GFA) has announced it has been granted provisional membership of UEFA after a meeting in St Petersburg on Monday.
The British colony had long been campaigning for entry to the governing body of European football, but saw their initial application rejected due to increasing pressure from Spanish authorities and the stipulation that only sovereign nations could be considered.
A statement posted on its official website read: “The Gibraltar FA is pleased to announce that it has today been granted provisional membership of UEFA at a meeting of the European football governing body’s executive committee in St. Petersburg, Russia.
“The vote on the Gibraltar FA’s full membership of UEFA will take place on the May 24, 2013 during the XXXVII Congress, to be held in London, England.
“The Gibraltar FA thanks the UEFA Executive Committee and reiterates its steadfast commitment to working with UEFA on the road map towards full membership and to building relationships with the 53 fellow member associations.”
Gibraltar is an off-shore, self-governed territory of the United Kingdom, located in southern Spain, with a population of 29,000 inhabitants. Their football governing body, the GFA, is also one of the oldest in the world.
Having fulfilled criteria to join FIFA in 1997, a request to join UEFA was disclosed two years later, but it was met with condemnation by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), who threatened to pull their teams out of the confederation.
A rule passed in 2001 whereby only countries recognised by the United Nations as an independent state were eligible for membership, prompting the GFA to take their application to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2003.
However, citing other examples of dependent nations in confederations, they eventually won their case and were awarded provisional UEFA membership in 2006, but lost their request to become full-time by 45 votes to just three.