Basque national team to apply for FIFA and UEFA membership


The Basque Football Federation will officially apply to make the region's national team a member of UEFA and FIFA, which would clear the side to play at the European Championship and the World Cup. 

Wednesday's General Assembly saw the resolution come up for voting, and passed with almost unanimous approval. 

Just one member of the board abstained, with 43 votes in favour and none against. 

Stars from local teams Athletic, Real Sociedad, Alaves and Eibar were present, with the likes of Asier Illarramendi, Aritz Aduriz, David Zurutuza and Asier Riesgo in attendance.

"Following the will of the FVF, representing Basque football, to achieve international recognition of its teams, it has been resolved to formally request the direct integration of the FVF in UEFA and FIFA," the Federation's statement read following the Assembly. 

The resolution enjoyed the backing of both the male and female Basque national teams, the FVF, the Basque government and community organisation Euskal Herria Kirola. 

Central to the region's application is the presence of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as member nations of both UEFA and FIFA despite lacking representation as independent states. 

Gibraltar, too, is recognised by UEFA and participates in European competition in spite of its status as an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, while the Faroe Islands also enjoy FIFA and UEFA membership as an autonomous part of Denmark.

Although it is currently unrecognised by either governing body, the Basque team has a long history of international competition. 

A 'Basque team' toured South America as early as 1922, playing friendlies against Argentina and Uruguay as well as other local sides in the two nations as well as Brazil. 

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The first formal game played by 'Vasconia' was against fellow Spanish region Catalunya in 1930, and games continued on a regular basis before the strongly nationalist Franco dictatorship all but halted such signs of regional autonomy, sporting and non-sporting. 

With the return of democracy, Basque teams returned to the field, with the first game coming against the Soviet Union in 1978, and they last turned out as Euskal in October with a 4-2 defeat of Venezuela.