Fresh from approving of the rule to grant Europa League winners Champions League entry, UEFA have announced that Gibraltar have received approval to be UEFA’s 54th member nation.
This means that Gibraltar are likely to enter the European Championship qualifying stages as another minnow along the likes of San Marino, Andorra and Faroe Islands. It also means their club sides will be allowed to compete in UEFA’s premier completions: the Champions League and Europa League.
Gibraltar is a British Overseas territory off the coast of Spain, whose sovereignty has been contended by Spain who asserts a claim to the island. Its inhabitants have rejected several referendums over the years on the island to cede the territory to Spain.
This led to previous UEFA membership applications experiencing strong Spanish resistance, with the current World and European Champions even threatening in 2007 to pull out of any completion that Gibraltar was included.
Sky Sports claim that upon issuing the news, UEFA president Michel Platini stated "the vast majority" of nations approved of Gibraltar joining.
Despite its footballing infancy (its first official international was in 1993), Gibraltar have already managed to defeat fellow UEFA member Faroe Islands, winning 3-0 in 2011, and following the UEFA vote Gibraltar confirmed plans to build a new national stadium.
Liam Walker is perhaps one of the most famous Gibraltarians to have played professionally, having had trials at a host of Premier League clubs as a youngster before signing for Portsmouth last season after several years in the Spanish lower leagues.
Lincoln F.C. are the current reigning Gibraltarian champions, in the top division of just six teams.
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