The following is an excerpt from the EHF website http://home.eurohandball.com/ehf_files/ehf_news/sr_SRBvisit/default.htm concerning a recent visit of the Serbian Handball Federation to the EHF:
“The position of Serbia on the participation of clubs in the European Cup, Challenge Cup competitions was also elaborated on following the cancellation of the match concerning the teams ZRK Kikinda -SRB and KH Vellaznimi Gjakove – KOS/SRB. Future matches of a similar constellation were discussed.”
Or in other words, Serbia’s refusal to let the Serbian club ZRK Kikinda to play the Kosovo Club Vellaznimi Gjakove was discussed as well as how to handle future Kosovo-Serbia matches. To further elaborate on geography and recent history, Kosovo is still technically part of Serbia. “Technically,” because since the 1999 war Kosovo has been under UN administration.
The Serbian Government position is that Kosovo should remain a part of Serbia, whereas a majority of the inhabitants of Kosovo want indepenence. Handball is in the middle of this dispute, because the EHF decided to allow a Kosovo team to participate in the Challenge Cup. The Serbian Government, however, wouldn’t allow the Serbian team to play the Kosovo team, resulting in the Kosovo club advancing in the tournament (due to forfeit) and the Serbian club paying a 7,500 Euro fine.
As fate would have it, yet another Serbian team, HC Naisa Nis, was drawn to the play the Kosovo team in the next round. This time, however, both matches of the competition will be played on a neutral floor in Hungary on 24 and 25 Feb.
Note: Thanks to Mark Hegedus of TimeOut Magazine www.timeoutmag.com for his contribution to this story