The Gibraltar FA is “pushing very hard” for a special exemption that will allow it to play World Cup qualifiers in the Victoria Stadium.
A delegation from UEFA was in Gibraltar this week visiting local facilities, the first step in the process.
When Gibraltar was admitted into FIFA last month, UEFA was tasked to define the modalities of the GFA’s integration into the preliminary competition.
UEFA inspectors regularly visit the stadium, but with the start of the World Cup qualifiers just a few months away, the pressure is mounting to obtain clearance to play at home.
“As [GFA general secretary] Dennis Beiso has explained on numerous occasions in various interviews, ever since we joined FIFA and our participation in the World Cup Qualifiers was confirmed, our number one priority was to work together with UEFA to try as much as we can to obtain a special exemption, for this qualification tournament only, to allow the World Cup Qualifiers to be played at the Victoria Stadium,” Mr Gonzalez said.
“We are pushing very hard for this exemption and the visit of the assessors this week is indeed the first part of this process.”
For the next scheduled qualification tournament in 2018, Mr Gonzalez added, “…we would like to play in our new national stadium.”
Last night, FIFA announced that Gibraltar would play in Group H in the qualifying round for the next World Cup.
Following the decision taken by the FIFA Congress in May 2016 to confirm the admission of Kosovo and Gibraltar as the 210th and 211th FIFA members respectively, both associations are entitled to take part in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, with UEFA tasked to look into the best way to integrate them in the preliminary competition.
“UEFA’s Emergency Panel has today decided that Kosovo will join Croatia, Iceland, Ukraine, Turkey and Finland in Group I, and Gibraltar will join Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Estonia and Cyprus in Group H,” FIFA said in a statement.
The UEFA Emergency Panel also decided that Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia should not play against Kosovo for security reasons.