Friday, 24th May, 2013
Gibraltar has been granted official UEFA membership, making it the 54th football association to be part of the European community.
The British Overseas Territory had been a provisional member of UEFA since 2011, and on Friday was given the induction after more than a decade of applications.
Spain has been the most vociferous opponent of Gibraltar’s permanent membership, having been key to its application being rejected twice – in 1999 and 2007.
It claims Gibraltar as part of its territory, but following a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling that UEFA cannot refuse its entry, the governing body’s 37th ordinary congress meeting, held in London, has officially ratified its inclusion.
Gareth Latin, president of the Gibraltar Football Association, in a speech to the congress following the vote, said: "It has been a long journey but one which – what matters most for us – has prevailed, and this football and the love for the sport.
"This is a momentous occasion for football in Gibraltar. UEFA membership means we can now begin the next chapter of Gibraltarian football."
The next chapter will include Champions League and Europa League participation from 2014/15 onwards, while also opening doors for European Championship qualification matches.
Gibraltar have already beaten two current UEFA members – San Marino and the Faroe Islands – in friendly games, whilst following the CAS ruling they have been playing European preliminary round matches in futsal.
Latin added: "With Gibraltar FA now part of the UEFA family, it will allow us to give the football community the best possible future and development needs.
"I would like to thank past and present GFA committees for their hard and dedication over the years, which has culminated in this historic day where we have become UEFA’s 54th member.
"I would like to thank you all for the opportunity to spread the message that we’re ready!"
Gibraltar do have a professional presence within England, with Portsmouth’s Liam Walker hailing from the region.
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