Why this story matters:
Sport is both a driver -- and a reflection -- of diplomatic, social, and political relations between countries. In the case of Serbia and Kosovo, this intersection of sport and politics is a textbook case of how bad relations can get.
Serbia refuses to recognize Kosovo as an independent state and often tries to disrupt its membership in international associations and sports organizations. Tensions between Belgrade and Pristina are causing the cancellation of sports events and preventing their citizens from enjoying competitions and the excitement of cheering for their national teams.
In the case of Serbia and Kosovo, the hope that sport could foster better relations has been turned upside down -- that hopefully sport will not destroy their relationship even further.
Details from the story:
- Earlier this month, Serbian authorities did not allow the Kosovo karate team to enter into Serbia for they were carrying Kosovo state symbols. Serbia doesn't recognize its former province of Kosovo as an independent state.
- Kosovo Foreign Minister Bexhet Pacoli condemned the decision of Serbian authorities and said he would call for Serbia’s exclusion from all international sport associations.
- The European Handball Federation suspended the Serbian national women's handball team in March this year due to the decision of the Serbian authorities to cancel a qualifier between Serbian and Kosovo national teams.