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Sport in Kosovo[a] has a long tradition and plays a prominent role in the society. Popular sports in Kosovo are among others football, basketball, volleyball, handball, and rugby. Whereas, major individual sports include wrestling, judo, swimming, boxing, karate and skiing.

Whereas, individual sports are the ones who brought Kosovo's biggest successes. The outstanding wrestlers and boxers such as Aziz Salihu, Mehmet Bogujevci, Sami Buzolli, Majlinda Kelmendi and Nora Gjakova have brought medals from major international competitions. Some of the federations that are part of the international associations are Kosovo Taekwondo Federation, Boxing Federation, Handball Federation, Judo Federation, and Kosovo Ski Federation. Nevertheless, athletes who were born and raised in European countries, had the opportunity to be successful in the international area.

Contents

Association footballEdit

Location of teams of the 2013–14 Football Superleague of Kosovo

The most popular sport in Kosovo is football. The playing of football in Kosovo is documented since at least 1914. However, only in 1922 were formed the two first football clubs FC Gjakova and FC Prishtina. Until 1926 the clubs competed within the several levels of the Belgrade Football Subassociation, and after 1926, clubs from Kosovo were integrated into the newly formed Skopje Football Subassociation. The subassociatitons organised different levels of leagues which served as qualification leagues for the Yugoslav championship.[1] During the years 1945 until 1991 the football in the former Yugoslavia was advancing so fast that in 1946 it was formed even the Football Federation of Kosovo, as a subsidiary of the Football Federation of Yugoslavia. The most successful team from Kosovo in the first league of Yugoslavia was FC Prishtina, while KF Trepça was part of the league for one year. Though, in 1991 was first found the Football Federation of Kosovo after all football players from Kosovo were banned from the First League in Yugoslavia. The first game was held in the stadium of KF Flamurtari on September 13, 1991 in Pristina which marked in the same time the start of the first independent championship in Kosovo. The governing body in Kosovo is mainly responsible for national team and for the most main cup competitions.[2]

Currently, Kosovo has a football league system which incorporates a lot of clubs. The top division, the Raiffeisen Super League has 12 teams.[3] The league was found in 1945 and it is organized by the Football Federation of Kosovo.[2] The other three professional division are the first league that includes 16 teams, and the second and third league. There are also semi-professional and amateur football clubs that are active as well. The main Cup competition in Kosovo is the Republic of Kosovo Cup, which is open to every men's football team that are part of the Football Federation of Kosovo. The most successful clubs are FC Prishtina (14 championship titles), KF Vëllaznimi (8 championship titles), KF Trepça (7 championship titles), KF Liria (5 championship titles), and KF Besa (3 championship titles).[4]

The two main clubs in football are FC Prishtina and KF Trepça who have achieved great success in football so far. The football Club Prishtina FC was founded in 1922, while KF Trepça was founded ten years later in 1932. KF Trepça was part of the 1976-77 championship in the former Yugoslavia League in Football. One year later they reached a huge success since they were able to play in the final for the former Yugoslavia Cup. FC Prishtina became the first member of the League in 1983, and it achieved the biggest victory after they beat Red Star in Belgrade. During this time Fadil Vokrri has impressed all by his talent as it was part of so-called “Golden Generation” of Prishtina.

Some football clubs, especially from North Kosovo, refuse to enter the Republic of Kosovo's institutions and they are still part of Football Association of Serbia. In Serbian Zone League, fourth football league are two sections with clubs from Kosovo: Morava Zone League and League of North Kosovo. At the end of the seasons the top club will be promoted to Serbian League level.

Three football players born in Kosovo (Milutin Šoškić, Fahrudin Jusufi, Vladimir Durković) was part of Yugoslavia national football team, who won gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics and silver medal at the 1960 European Championship. Stevan Stojanović from Kosovo, who played for Yugoslavia was part of Red Star Belgrade and they won 1990–91 European Cup. Nowadays, in many European teams there are players from Kosovo how had the opportunity to show their talents and values. Thus, Lorik Cana was the captain of Olympique de Marseille and Sunderland A.F.C, while Valon Behrami who played for West Ham United F.C., and currently is playing for Watford FC. There are other players who had the opportunity to play for European Football Teams such as Xherdan Shaqiri, who plays as a midfielder for Liverpool and for the Switzerland national football team.[5]

Nowadays, the Kosovo Football Federation is preparing for the first national friendly match against Haiti. Kosovo's national football team will play their first official friendly match in the northern city of Mitrovica on March 5. The friendly match against Haiti will be Kosovo's first match after FIFA gave the permission to play friendly matches on 13 January 2014.[6]

In May 2016, Kosovo became the 55th member of UEFA and the 210th member of FIFA.[7][8]

Kosovo DerbyEdit

Kosovo Derby is the largest football derby in Kosovo which is contested between fierce rivals Drita FC and SC Gjilani. The derby was started in 1995 after the crisis and split of Drita FC. For the past 20 years the match had attracted tens of thousands of partisan fans.

BasketballEdit

Basketball is one of the most popular sports in Kosovo. The first championship was held in 1991 with the participation of eight teams. The first champion was KB Prishtina. The Basketball Federation of Kosovo was accepted as a full member of FIBA on 13 March 2015.[9] Notable players born in Kosovo who played for very successful Yugoslavia and Serbia national teams include Zufer Avdija, Marko Simonović, and Dejan Musli. Some of them are continued to competing for Serbia after recognition of Kosovo from FIBA.

Since 2013 two teams from Kosovo KB Prishtina and KB Peja are participating in Balkan International Basketball League (BIBL-Balkan International Basketball League).[10] Kosovo Basketball Federation organizes competitions in different categories for men and women. Major league of basketball called ETC Super league following, first league, junior's league, cadet's league, and pioneer's league. Also part of competitions of Kosovo Basketball Federation is Cup of Kosovo. Current winner is Peja[11] Participating teams in ETC Super league are : KB Prishtina, Peja, Trepça, Bashkimi, Drita, Besa, RTV 21, Kastrioti.[12] The current champion is Sigal Prishtina.[13]

One of the most famous club in basketball was called Elektricisti as they were part of the second division of the former Yugoslavia, while Zufer Avdija, a basketball player of the Eleketricisti has played for the basketball national team of Yugoslavia when they were part of European Basketball League. Women's competition has been much more successful as team Universititi was ranked among the best teams.

JudoEdit

Judo is a martial sport that brought Kosovo its first gold medal. The organization of games between the clubs is controlled by the Judo Federation of Kosovo. The Kosovo Judo Federation was accepted in 2012 as a full member of the International Judo Federation.[14] Presently, there are 12 clubs active from different cities of Kosovo. The number of participants from all the clubs is 750 Males and 250 Females. Whereas the number of active coaches is 25.[15]

The most successful one is Driton Kuka who was a champion for many years. He won the bronze medal at the European Championship in 1990, and the World Cup in Hungary in 1991. Nowadays, Driton Kuka is the coach of the Majlinda Kelmendi, a judoka from Pejë the represents Kosovo in all competition in judo.[16] Majlinda Kelmendi who won the gold medal at the 2009 World Junior Championships in Paris, France.[17] She finished the fifth in the 2010 World Junior Championships in Morocco, and ninth in the 52 category at the 2010 World Judo Championships in Tokyo, Japan.[18] However, she was not allowed to represent Kosovo at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London due to the resistance of International Olympic Committee and the United Nations. Majlinda Kelmendi gave Kosovo the first judo world title on 27 August 2013, as she beat Erika Miranda, a Brazilian judoka in the 52 kilograms gold medal match in Rio de Janeiro. In 2013, she was ranked first in the international rankings by the International Judo Federation in the 52 kg category.[19]

Nora Gjakova won first medal for Kosovo at the European Games, when she earned bronze in 57 kg category.

HandballEdit

First big handball teams were formed during 1948 as Milicionar (Milicionari), Jedinstvo Đakovica (Jedinstvo e Gjakovës), Budućnost Peć (Buduçnosti i Pejës), Trepča Mitrovica (Trepça e Mitrovicës), Kosovo (Kosova), Priština (Prishtinës), etc. While small handball (today's handball) was introduced during 1950–1951. Handball teams did succeed to join the first and second leagues of the former Yugoslavia, that time (1970–1980) was among the strongest leagues in the world.

From 13 to 23 October 1979 in Kosovo was held women's World Junior Championships “Kosova ‘79”. The participants were: Austria, USSR, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Yugoslavia, Norway, DR Germany, FR Germany and United States.[20]

Teams such as Borci, Prishtina and Trepca reached to play in the first league of the former Yugoslavia. Some of the players that played for the Yugoslav national team were Aziz Makiqi, Hasan Bajrami, and Tahir Sojeva.

After the Kosovo War, many attempts were made for the internationalization of handball however this did not happen until December 18, 2004 when Kosovo handball federation was accepted in the European handball federation with conditional rights. After that year, Kosovo's teams such as KH Prishtina, KH Besa Famiglia and KH Kastrioti participated in European competitions.[21] The greatest success so far was achieved in Cell Cup tournament in Hungary in 2013, where the Kosovo U18 team took second place in a competition with teams from across Europe.[22]

Nowadays in Kosovo exists handball super league (major league), cup of Kosovo, first league, junior's league, cadet's league in both categories women and man. Another part of Kosovo Handball Federation is beach handball. Participating clubs in super league are: Besa Famiglia, Prishtina, Kosova, Kastrioti, Zhegra, Drenica, Vëllaznimi, Trepça, Samadrexha, Llapi, Drita. The 2014 champion was KH Prishtina.[23]

VolleyballEdit

Volleyball another sport that is played by hand, first appeared in Kosovo in 1936 in the high schools of cities like: Prishtinë, Pejë, Prizren etc. The first championship was held in Pristina on October 24 to 26 1948, six teams participated as: Proleteri, Buduçnosti, Trepça, Borac, Metohia, Brastvo. During 1966–1967, four teams from Kosovo took part in the second division of the league of former Yugoslavia. In 1990 KV Prishtina-Elektroekonomia took part in qualification to enter the first division of the former Yugoslavia but did not succeed. First League of Women was organized in 1975. Universiteti from Prishtina was the first team of women who took part in the second division league of Yugoslavia.[24] Now volleyball federation of Kosovo organizes competitions in the category of women and men. Major league called Superleague of Kosovo then come cup of Kosovo, the first league and junior's league. Also part of the Volleyball Federation of Kosovo are competitions : Cup of Kosovo and beach volley. Teams participating in Super league of Kosovo are: Theranda, KV Drenica, KV R&Rukolli, KV Besa, KV Luboteni, KV Ferizaji.[25] The current champion is KV Luboteni.[26]

AthleticsEdit

Athletics is a sport that includes running, walking, jumping, and throwing and is evidenced since the Illyrian period. Athletics Federation of Kosovo is an association of athletes and their clubs that organize sports competitions in the discipline of athletics in Kosovo.[27] Athletics Federation of Kosovo was founded on 25 September 1991, Prishtine. Some of the main responsibilities for the federation are to promote athletics in Kosovo, lead the development of athletics, coordinate the progress of the quality of athletics, and to adapt and implement short and long curriculum development in athletics.[28] This association would not be so successful without the important achievement from their respective clubs. There are 13 active clubs, but the most successful ones are Atberia, Besa, Juniku, Llapi, Prishtina, Prizreni, and Trepca.[29] From 25 clubs there are 196 males registered and 125 females registered assembling a total of 330 active athletics in Kosovo.[30] Among many other activates, the ones in which athletics from their respective clubs were part recently are "Krosi i Bardhe" in Prishtina, "Vrapimi i Paversise" in Junik, "Pranvera Studentore" in Gjilan, and "Kampionati i Kosoves ne Kros" in Prishtina. Currently, the association is preparing for the half marathon in Prishtina, one of the most important events that will be held on 11 May 2014.[31]

Sonja Stolić is a middle distance and long-distance runner. She won some medals in international competitions and she competed at the 2000 Summer Olympics as part of Serbia and Montenegro Team.

ChessEdit

Chess is a very common sport in Kosovo. Most chess events are organized by the Kosovo Chess Federation. Annual events organized by the federation include the Kosovan Chess Championship and the traditional "Java e Minatoreve", "Pervjetori i Pavaresis", and "Hyzri Talla" tournaments.[32] Kosovan chess clubs are divided by the federation into two categories. The first category is the First League, where some of the clubs are Minatori, NLB Prishtina, Hyzri Talla, Istogu, and Lamkos.[33] Clubs in the Second League are Ferizaji, Shpeta, Vitia and Shara.[34]

TennisEdit

Tennis in Kosovo is governed by the Federation of Tennis in Kosovo. Kosovo Tennis Federation, founded in 1992, has 300 active players belonging to different age group. KT Prishtina was founded on the 27 June 1992 and is the oldest club in Kosovo. It has many players who are ranked pretty high in the Kosovo rankings list and it has its own tennis school and many coaches. The club consists of 230 members, 55% of which are females. Whereas, KT Trepca was founded on 15 July 2003, as it has its own tennis school which consists of 47 students. The main objectives of the association is to group the teams and organized games between the clubs.[35] Presently, there are 10 clubs such as KT Prishtina, KT DielliX, KT Trepca, and KT Rahoveci.[36] The federation is officially accepted in the International Tennis Federations (ITF) as the players from Kosovo are permitted to play in international games under the banner of ITF.[37] This is a huge step toward the internationalization of tennis. The most famous with the highest participation tourneys are Sporek Open, Dielli Open, Trepca Open, Drenica Open, Prishtina Open and Masters.[38]


RugbyEdit

R.K Qikat is Kosovos first all-female rugby sevens team. They have entered regional competitions since 2017, and have a youth program for children under 12, in cooperation with the mens team. They have contributed to the path towards recognition of Kosovo Rugby Association by the World Rugby Organization and IOC.[39]

Traditional sportsEdit

 
Young and old people playing traditional sports.

Albaniada is an event that is aimed to be traditional-gathers together people from all Albanian territories, where young and old people play traditional games and sports the main goal of this event is to 'bring back to life' games and sports that Albanian ancestors have been playing many years ago.[40] Some of the traditional sports are Hats (Kapuça), Measure and Stick (Kut e Kleçkë), Crouch (Guxhas), Ball-on-Horse (top-n-kali), Arm Wrestling (rrëzim i duarve), Bag Hopping (vrapim me thes), Leg Wrestling (rrëzim i këmbëve), Boards (rrasash), Capture the Handkerchief (kapja e shamise), Rope Pull (tërheqja e litarit), Stone Throwing Sideways (gurapesh me dy duar anash), Overhead Stone Throwing (gurapesh prapa), Single-Hand Stone Throwing and Swords (Shpatash).[41] This kind of sports can be played in an indoor environment like Oda or outside.[42]

Sports fan clubsEdit

Kosovan people are known for the support they show for their local teams. There are three big fan clubs: Plisat supporting Pristina, Shqiponjat supporting Peja and Intelektualët supporting Gjilan teams.

PlisatEdit

Plisat
Founded1987; 32 years ago (1987)
ArenaFadil Vokrri Stadium
LocationPristina, Kosovo
Team colorsWhite and blue
         

This fan club was founded in 1987 by the supporters of FC Prishtina. They got their name from the traditional Albanian cap called Plis. Usually, the members of Plisat stay in the east stand of the Pristina City Stadium while supporting their team in football.[43] They are popularly known as "the 12th player" of FC Prishtina because of the massive support they provide during the games-no matter if losing or winning. In the early 1980s they made notable travels to Čačak, but specially notorious was when, in 1983, more than 7000 supporters followed FC Prishtina to the Marakana stadium in Belgrade in club's historical victory over Red Star Belgrade in the, back then, strong Yugoslav First League.

Besides supporting the football team, after the Kosovo war, Plisat started to support also their basketball, Sigal Prishtina, and also handball teams. They started to shape their 'support style' cheering their teams in different ways-followed by different choreography in the stands of the city stadium in Pristina. Plisat these days are the most famous fan club in Kosovo.[44]

ShqiponjatEdit

Shqiponjat
Founded1993; 26 years ago (1993)
ArenaKaragaq Sports Hall
Peć
LocationPeć, Kosovo
Team colorsBlack and yellow
         

Shqiponjat (English:The Eagles) fan club was founded on December 13, 1993, in Peć. This fan club got their name from the symbol of the Albanian mountains - the Albanian Eagle. They are supporting the Peć teams like KF Besa in football, KB Peja in basketball and KH Besa in handball.

IntelektualëtEdit

Intelektualët
Founded1998; 21 years ago (1998)
TypeUltras group
TeamAll clubs with name Drita from Gjilan
MottoNo one likes us, we don't care
LocationGjilan,   Kosovo
ArenaGjilan City Stadium
Colors            
AffiliationsBKHooligans, Bojanina Blue Boys, Brigada 138, DH-B Hools, E7 Hools, Hienat, PM Mahalla, Q.Q Hools, ULH and GC Hools

This fan club got this name (English:The Intellectuals) after the club was founded in 1947 by the intellectuals and the society of the city in Gjilan. They support all the 10 clubs that share the name 'Drita'. Mostly this fan club supports the biggest club of Gjilan-the football club Drita in the matches organized in the City Stadium of Gjilan, but the Intellectuals are present cheering also for the teams in basketball, volleyball and handball for both genres. The colors that characterize this fan club are white and blue, as those are the colors all clubs named Drita use.[45]

There are several theories about the origin of the name of the fan club. One is that the name came from the good behavior of the fans, and the good organization of their matches in comparison with other clubs at that time in Kosovo. Another theory is that the name came from the patriotic fractions within the club which used club and its infrastructure as a camouflage to organise clandestine meetings with other patriots of the Kosovo Albanian patriotic movement. Initially, the funs club was spontaneous and had no name, but after 1998, they became well organized, with several well identified subgroups which helped the team and the club in their different activities. The most powerful of this subgroups in the period around 2000 to 2002 were "Holy Blue" and "White and Blue Hooligans". Nowadays, only the subgroup 'Ultras Hyena' and 'East Blue Boys' are active.

Arpagjik'tEdit

Arpagjik't
Founded2000; 19 years ago (2000)
Arena"Përparim Thaçi" Stadium , Prizren
LocationPrizren, Kosovo
Team colorsBlack and orange
         

The fan clubs in Prizren started when the local football club, KF Liria played in the Yugoslav Second League. People from the city organized with traditional songs, costumes and traditional dances, headed the local stadium, that is now called "Përparim Thaçi", to support their football club at that time.

After the war in Kosovo, their presence in the matches became regular, and the fans started to call themselves Arpagjik't. After the first season, groups Arpagjik't and The Panthers merged under one same name - Arpagjik't.

The first flag within the Panthers was the one prepared in 2001, 20 by 7 meters, in which was written "Go Bashkimi, Go Panthers". The first days under the name Arpagjik't were very successful because the fan club distributed over 400 fan membership cards, with whom the fans could watch the matches without paying anything. This was a new era for the ultras in Prizren under one name. The aim of the fan club is to prepare the city stadium and the local indoor arenas in which the local clubs play games; prepare the stands with requisites, flags and club scarfs.

Arpagjik't is one of the biggest fanclubs in the after war era in Kosovo.[46]

Sports venuesEdit

International sports membershipEdit

For a long time in Kosovo the people have missed international activities, so it has been a vacuum about organizing international sports events and the opportunity to represent the quality of the young athletes of Kosovo in the international level, who would give a positive impact in advancing in the local sport.[48] Kosovo was a part of several international sports federations in the 1990s and has applied to become a member of many more after its 17 February 2008 unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia. Currently Kosovo federations are full members of seven international federations, provisional members of four international federations, associated members of two international federations and members of 1 European federation. On 22 October 2014 the International Olympic Committee announced that it had granted provisional recognition to the Kosovo Olympic Committee and proposed that it be granted full recognition at the IOC Session to be held in December 2014.[49] On 8 December, 2014, Olympic Committee of Kosovo became a full member of International Olympic Committee.[50] The acceptance of Kosovo in the International Olympic Committee can have a significant positive impact in accepting other sport federations in the international level.

Accepted membership applicationsEdit

The following sports federations have either admitted or have received the application from Republic of Kosovo to be admitted into their membership.

Kosovar sportspeopleEdit

See alsoEdit

AnnotationsEdit

  1. ^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the 2013 Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has been recognized as an independent state by 112 out of 193 United Nations member states, while 11 states have recognized Kosovo only to later withdraw their recognition.
  2. ^ Began to represent Serbia prior to 2008 Kosovo declaration of independence and continued after
  3. ^ Began to represent Serbia prior to 2008 Kosovo declaration of independence and continued after
  4. ^ Began to represent Serbia prior to 2008 Kosovo declaration of independence and continued after
  5. ^ Began to represent Serbia prior to 2008 Kosovo declaration of independence and continued after
  6. ^ Began to represent Serbia prior to 2008 Kosovo declaration of independence and continued after
  7. ^ Began to represent Serbia prior to 2008 Kosovo declaration of independence and continued after

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