Sport in Kosovo is a tradition and plays a prominent role. Popular sports in Kosovo include football, basketball, volleyball, handball, and rugby, whereas major individual sports include wrestling, judo, swimming, boxing, karate and skiing.

Individual sports have been Kosovo's biggest success, in particular judo. The Judoka Majlinda Kelmendi won Kosovo's first ever Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in the Women's 52 kg category.,[1] She won two back to back World Judo Championships in 2013 and in 2014[2] as well as four European Judo Championships titles in 2014, 2016, 2017 and in the 2019 European Games the first gold medal for Kosovo at the European Games.[3] Before retiring her judo career in 2021 after the 2020 Olympic Games.[4][5] the other world known Judokas are Distria Krasniqi who won the second olympic gold medal for Kosovo in the 2020 Summer Olympics,[6] followed by her compatriot Nora Gjakova who won Kosovo's second gold medal in Tokio and the third Olympic gold medal[7] overall for the country, in its olympic history so far.[8]

Boxing is also a successful individual sport in Kosovo.[9] K.B. Prishtina was the most successful Boxing Club during Yugoslavia winning the Yugoslavian Boxing Championships five times during their time.[10] Aziz Salihu is the most successful boxer in his country. He became the first ever Kosovan to win an Olympic Medal with Bronze at the 1984 Summer Olympics in the Super heavyweight category.[11] He also would win two European Boxing Championships Bronze medals in 1981 Tampere and 1985 in Budapest.[12] He also won another bronze medal at the Boxing World Cup in 1987 in Belgrade before winning his gold medal at the 1987 Mediterranean Games in Larnaka in Syria. Other successful Kosovan boxers were Mehmet Bogujevci, Sami Buzoli, Bajram Hasani and Agim Ljatifi, Besim Kabashi, Donjeta Sadiku who would win many medals as Kosovans in international boxing competitions like the European Boxing Championship, World Boxing Championship and in Boxing at the Mediterranean Games for Yugoslavia.[13]

Football is the most popular sport in Kosovo and the most successful team sport in the Country. The Kosovo national football team in its short history achieved plenty of successful stories.[14] Their first success came at the 2018–19 UEFA Nations League finishing in first place in Group D, in League D in which they faced Azerbaijan, Faroe Islands and Malta. Kosovo secured the promotion after notably beating Azerbaijan at home with 4–0 in the last game. Kosovo finished the league unbeaten (with four wins and two draws) what secured them a play-off spot for the UEFA Euro 2020.[15] After the successful Nations League encounter, Kosovo entered the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying in Group A facing England,Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Montenegro respectively.[16] In which Kosovo were able to upset the opponents after managing their first win against Bulgaria away in Sofia with 2-3[17] followed by a surprising win against the Czech Republic with 2-1 in Prishtina.[18] being 15 matches unbeaten in which they won 11 out of 15 games during that period, being almost two years without a defeat.[19] The game against England away even saw the Kosovars took an early lead in the surprise, despite that they would lose 3–5 away, ending the longest unbeaten run in the football history of Kosovo.[20] In the following Kosovo would win once more this time defeating Montenegro with 2-0 [21] after that they faced the Czech Republic away. Despite a yet surprising lead, they weren't able to hold on and would lose close with 2-1 the decider for the UEFA Euro 2020 campaign. Kosovo finished their qualifying campaign in third place with eleven points.[22] In the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying play-offs Kosovo faced North Macedonia in the Toše Proeski Arena in Skopje. The match itself was very close but North Macedonia would win this match unfortunately ending Kosovo's dreams for a debut participation at the UEFA Euro 2020 for the Kosovans.[23] This remains Kosovo's greatest National Football team success so far.

FC Prishtina and KF Trepça are the most known Football clubs in the Country, followed by KF Ballkani and KF Drita.[24][25] Trepça were able to qualify as the first Kosovan Football club in the history for the Yugoslav First League, despite the relegation in the same saison they reached the finals of the 1977–78 Yugoslav Cup losing close to HNK Rijeka. The best club football achievement for Kosovo under Yugoslavia.[26] Fc Prishtina is the following team that qualified to the Yugoslav First League in 1983–84 finishing in 8th place that saison and runners up that year to Eisenstadt in the Mitropa Cup.[27] They would play four more saison's in the highest division of Yugoslavia, before being relegated in 1987-88, also being able to reach in the same year the Semifinals of the Yugoslav Cup in which they lost close to Borac Banja Luka after penalty's.[28] The most recent success came by KF Ballkani who became the first Kosovan Football after their independence to qualify for the newly crown UEFA Conference League in 2022-23[29][30] Their first ever win in a UEFA competition came against Sivasspor in a thrilling 3–4 away win in Turkey.[31] They would qualify for the second year running for the 2023-24 UEFA Conference League.[32] After beating FC BATE Borisov in the Play-off 4–1 on aggregate in the final result.[33]

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 arena.

Association football edit

Locations of the 2022–23 Football Superleague of Kosovo teams

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 the two first football clubs formed, 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 subassociations organised different levels of leagues which served as qualification leagues for the Yugoslav championship.[34] From 1945 until 1991, football in the former Yugoslavia advanced so fast that in 1946 the Football Federation of Kosovo was formed 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. In 1991 the Football Federation of Kosovo was refounded after all football players from Kosovo were banned from the First League in Yugoslavia. The first game was held in KF Flamurtari's stadium on 13 September 1991 in Pristina, which also marked the start of the first independent championship in Kosovo. The governing body in Kosovo is mainly responsible for the national team and for most of the main cup competitions.[35]

Currently, Kosovo has a football league system which incorporates a number of clubs. The top division, the Raiffeisen Super League, has 12 teams.[36] The league was founded in 1945 and is organized by the Football Federation of Kosovo.[35] The other three professional divisions are the first league which 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 is part of the Football Federation of Kosovo. The most successful clubs are FC Prishtina (twenty championship titles), KF Vëllaznimi (eight championship titles), KF Trepça (seven championship titles), KF Liria (five championship titles), and KF Besa (three championship titles).[37]

The two main clubs in football are FC Prishtina and KF Trepça who have achieved great success in football. 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 1977–78 championship in the former Yugoslavia League in football. One year later they reached huge success since they were able to play in the finals for the former Yugoslavia Cup against HNK Rijeka in which they lost close.[26] FC Prishtina became the first member of the league in 1983, and it achieved victory after beating Red Star in Belgrade with 3–1. During this time Fadil Vokrri impressed all with his talent as he was part of so-called "Golden Generation" of Prishtina.[citation needed] They would finish their first season in 8th place. Fc Prishtina in the same season played in the Mitropa Cup, in which they came runners up to Eisenstadt from Austria. In the following seasons Prishtina were able to compete in the league until their last season in 1988. In the 1987–88 Yugoslav Cup Prishtina reached the semifinals, in which they would lose against Borac Banja Luka after penalties. The first unofficial Championship in Kosovo was held in 1991 in which 12 clubs participated.[38] After some years without UEFA Club European football Kosovo was finally recognized by the UEFA in 2016.[39] FC Ballkani became the first Kosovan football Club to qualify for an UEFA Competition, as they beat KF Shkupi in the play-off round away and home to take place for the Groupstage of the 2022–23 UEFA Europa Conference League.[40][41] In Group G Ballkani faced in Prishtina in the debut CFR Cluj from Romania. They drew their first ever UEFA Club competition game with 1-1 thanks to a goal from Armend Thaqi, securing Kosovo's first ever points in a UEFA club competition.[42] After a close loss to Slavia Prague away from home, Ballkani would than secure Kosovo, maiden win in a UEFA competition as they beat Turkish side Sivasspor with an entertaining 3–4 win away in Turkey.[29] Despite some good performances Ballkani couldn't progress further as they secure only four points in the process, finishing in last place. It is still Kosovo's highest European club football success, in the history of the country.[43] Ballkani also secured its first ever win for the Country in the UEFA Champions League qualifying after beating in the first leg Bulgarian side Ludogorets Razgrad with 2–0 in Prishtina.[44] After they lost to Ludogorets Razgrad away from home. Ballkani were able to win their next five matches in a row in the 2023–24 UEFA Europa Conference League qualifying against Larne F.C. 3-1[45] and away with 4-0 [46] as well. They beat Lincoln Red Imps F.C. in the following third round from Gibraltar with 2–0 at home and 3–1 away, to qualify for the Playoffs for the second year running.[47] In the Playoffs Ballkani were able to beat Bate Borisov from Belarus at home in the first leg with 4-1 despite the loss away from home with 0-1 they would qualify still for the 2023–24 UEFA Europa Conference League for the second straight time as a Football Club in the history of Kosovo.[48][49] Other notable Kosovan Football clubs are FC Drita from Gjilan, who won the Superleague of Kosovo three times most recently in 2019–20.[50] In Europe their best result came at the previous season, as they nearly overcome the well known side Feyenoord Rotterdam in two legs, losing away with 2-3 despite leading with goals from Marko Simonovski and Astrit Fazliu in the process.[51] Kosovo strongest encounter in recent history. Fc Drita impress recently again, as they draw away from home against the well known Czech Republic side of Viktoria Plzeň in the 2023–24 UEFA Europa Conference League qualifying.[52]

Efforts for internationalization of Kosovo in FIFA and UEFA edit

In September 2012, Albania international Lorik Cana, along with Swiss internationals Granit Xhaka, Valon Behrami and Xherdan Shaqiri, all of them with Kosovo Albanian origin, wrote a declaration to FIFA President Sepp Blatter, asking him to allow Kosovo to play friendly matches. The declaration was also signed by eight other Albanian footballers hailing from Kosovo as Ahmed Januzi, Alban Meha, Armend Dallku, Burim Kukeli, Etrit Berisha, Fatmire Bajramaj, Lorik Cana, Mërgim Mavraj and Samir Ujkani.[53]

On 6 February 2013, FIFA decided to allow Kosovan club teams to play friendly games against clubs from countries whose national teams were members of FIFA.[54] However, it was stipulated that Kosovan clubs and teams could not display national symbols such as the Kosovan flag, emblem, etc., or play the Kosovan anthem back then. On 5 March 2014, the Kosovan football team was finally allowed by FIFA to play its first international friendly match, against Haiti this match ended in a 0–0 draw.[55]

After the match against Haiti, six more matches were followed in 2014, against Turkey, Senegal, Albania, Equatorial Guinea and Oman respectively. Kosovo would secure their first win ever, in an international football match after beating Oman 1–0 with a goal from Albert Bunjaku.[56]

Membership in UEFA and FIFA edit

In September 2015, at an UEFA Executive Committee meeting in Malta, the request from Kosovo for admission in UEFA was scheduled for deliberation in the next Ordinary Congress, to be held in Budapest.[57] On 3 May 2016, at the Ordinary Congress, Kosovo was accepted into UEFA after members voted 28–24 in favor of Kosovo.[58][59] Ten days later, Kosovo was accepted in FIFA during their 66th Congress in Mexico, with 141 votes in favour and 23 against.[60]

First Tournament edit

Kosovo debut in the World Cup Qualification edit

Kosovo began to make their debut in International Football at the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification. In which Kosovo faced in Group I. Croatia, Finland, Ukraine, Turkey and Iceland.[61][62] The Kosovars created its first major surprise, holding host Finland to a 1–1 draw, thanks to a penalty scored by Valon Berisha.[63] but it turned to be the lone point of Kosovo in the qualification, as the team lost the remaining games and finished last. Also suffering the highest loss in their young history against Croatia with 0–6 at home.[64] After this Qualification Albert Bunjaki were sacked and replaced by Swiss coach Bernard Challandes[65] for the newly upcoming UEFA Nations League competition.

Kosovo's Golden era edit

Following the failure to qualify for 2018 FIFA World Cup, Kosovo participated in the 2018–19 UEFA Nations League D Group 3 against Azerbaijan, Faroe Islands, and Malta.[66][67] Kosovo first ever UEFA competition match was against Azerbaijan in which they draw away with a goalless result.[68] Kosovo achieved their first win in the UEFA Nations League, which was also the team's first-ever competitive win, a 2–0 home win against the Faroe Islands.[69][70] Kosovo would also gain more confidence after beating Malta away from home with 0–5 by goals from Muriqi, Kololli, Avdijaj and Rashica. That is Kosovo's highest win in their football history of the country.[71] In the final match of the Group, the Kosovans faced Azerbaijan this time at home, beating them with a stellar performance with 4–0 in which Arber Zeneli scored a hattrick for his Country.[72] After this Kosovo finished the league unbeaten (with four wins and two draws) and secured promotion to the C league for the next edition, as well as securing the country's first-ever play-offs spot in its attempt to qualify for the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament.[15]

After a successful Nations League, campaign Kosovo entered the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying in which they were placed in Group A against Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Montenegro, and the well known side of England.[16] The Kosovan Football Federation enjoyed an unbeaten streak of 15 matches in international football from 2017 and also at the start of their first ever UEFA Euro qualifying campaign. As the Kosovans were able to start pretty well considering their underdog role at this group drawing 1:1 against Bulgaria at home in the Fadil Vokrri Stadium in Prishtina, thanks to an equalizer from Arber Zeneli missing out unlucky on their first win in this group.[73] Despite drawing once more away from home against Montenegro,[74] than Kosovo were able to win their first ever qualifying match for a major tournament by defeating Bulgaria 3–2. away from home in the Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia to a late header by Elbasan Rashani. [75] The next win came surprisingly in Prishtina against the Czech Republic winning with 2–1 with goals from Vedat Muriqi and Mërgim Vojvoda.[76] After this win they were called the "Brazilians of the Balkans" due to their long unbeaten run of 15 matches in which they won 11 at that time. Being also the longest unbeaten run in Europe out of any national football team at that current time.[77][19]

The game against England away even saw the Kosovars took an early lead in the surprise, despite that they would lose 3–5 away, ending the longest unbeaten run in the football history of Kosovo.[20] In the following Kosovo would win once more this time defeating Montenegro with 2–0 by goals from Amir Rrahmani and Muriqi[78] after that they faced the Czech Republic away. Despite a yet surprising lead, by a header from Atdhe Nuhiu they weren't able to hold on and would lose close with 2-1 the decider for the UEFA Euro 2020 campaign. Kosovo finished their qualifying campaign in third place with eleven points.[22] In the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying play-offs Kosovo faced North Macedonia in the Toše Proeski Arena in Skopje. The match itself was very close but North Macedonia would win this match unfortunately 2-1 despite an goal from Florent Hadergjonaj ending Kosovo's dreams for a debut participation at the UEFA Euro 2020 for the Country.[79] This remains Kosovo's greatest National Football team success so far.

Notable Kosovan Football Players edit

Three football players born in Kosovo (Milutin Šoškić, Fahrudin Jusufi, Vladimir Durković) were part of the Yugoslavia national football team, who won the gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics and silver medal at the 1960 European Championship. Nowadays, in many European teams, there are players from Kosovo who have the opportunity to show their talents and values.[80] Lorik Cana was the captain and legend of Olympique de Marseille. He also played before for Paris Saint-Germain F.C. and after that for Sunderland A.F.C.,Galatasaray and Lazio Rome, he is known for leading the Albania national football team to their maiden Euros at the UEFA Euro 2016 in France.[81] Valon Behrami 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 clubs like, such as Xherdan Shaqiri, who plays now as a midfielder for Chicago Fier and for the Switzerland national football team. He played before for FC Basel as well as for Bayern Munich with who he won the 2012–13 Champions League with.[82] He than also had a successful spell with Liverpool winning his second UEFA Champions League in 2018-19, being so far the only Albanian of Kosovan descent to achieve this feat.[83] Other notable footballers are Granit Xhaka, who just recently won with Bayer 04 Leverkusen the 2023–24 Bundesliga Championship.[84] He also played before for Arsenal F.C. winning with them twice the FA Cup in 2016-17 and 2019-20 and reaching with them the UEFA Europa League finals in 2018-19 losing to rivals Chelsea F.C..[85][86] Followed by fellow Footballers like Milot Rashica and Amir Rrahmani who recently won the Seria A title with SSC Napoli in 2022-23 in his football career.[87]

Kosovo Derby edit

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 has attracted tens of thousands of fans.

There is often a fierce rivalry between one of the two strongest teams in the national league and that is particularly the case in the Football Superleague of Kosovo, where the game between Drita and Gjilani is known as the Kosovo Derby. According to the tradition of the city of Gjilan, the party starts with fans organization, who try to give the maximum support for the respective clubs, there is also some surprise for the other opponent camp, to say that we were better and is appreciated more than what is presented to you with great curiosity about the whole city, what a presentation will be on the weekend from Skifterat (Falcons) and Intelektualët (Intellectuals).

Three days before the match the derby gives the atmosphere a night life, everywhere in the cafe bars is an atmosphere that occurs only during national holidays, where fans are seen by both the Skifterat (Falcons) and Intelektualët (Intellectuals) to live all that week under the fever of the much-anticipated derby.

One hour before the match, the two camps are organized in groups and always avoid eventual incidents between the two ultras groups. They divide the streets from where they will go to the stadium, which is good, because the Kosovo Police organised themselves in a way to avoid the breakdown of this holiday and the much-anticipated confrontation in Gjilan.

For a brief few moments, everything apart from the dozens of flares that littered the pitch, that'd had disappeared from view. Gone were the two white minarets that usually overlook the stadium in eastern Kosovo. Gone too were the lines of riot police patrolling the front of the main stand along with the 10,000-strong crowd, all enveloped in a monstrous blue cloud of smoke. On the other side of the pitch, a similar scene was being played out, but the consuming cloud was red. The only evidence of a football match being played was the thunderous noise of drums and chants rising ethereally from the fog.[88]

Kosovo women's national football team edit

Kosovo began to make their debut in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup qualification, where Kosovo was drawn with Albania, Greece and Malta.[89] The Kosovars despite the efforts failed to qualify and finished last in the group with three losses.

After failing to qualify for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, Kosovo participated in the UEFA Women's Euro 2021 qualifying, together with Estonia, Russia, Slovenia, Turkey and 2019 World Cup runners-up finisher Netherlands,[90] the Kosovars created their first big surprise, defeating Turkey in a 2–0 home win, which was also the team's first-ever competitive win,[91] victory which increased the enthusiasm which unfortunately did not last long and after the positive results began to experience a decline which resulted in disqualification.

Futsal edit

Kosovo's history in Futsal is stated since the early 21th century. They finally got accepted as an UEFA futsal member on the Congress in Budapest in September 2015.[92] They are accepted as a World Futsal member in the 66th FIFA congress held in Mexico, being finally fully accepted in May 2016.[93] The Futsal Superleague of Kosovo was founded in 2005.

They gain access to the UEFA Futsal Champions League in their debut season in the 2016–17 UEFA Futsal Cup. In which FC Feniks Drenas made their debut for Kosovo at this competition.[94] Feniks were able to impress in the first round as they won all three matches against Oxford City Lions with 2-3 from England, they beating than Andorran side FC Encamp with a high scoring 0–12 win against the host of this round.[95] In the third and final match Feniks Drenica were once more able to win as they beat ASA Tel Aviv with a final score of 6-0 respectively.[96] Qualifying as a debutant to the Main round. In the Main Round they were able to maintain their form. They won their first match against the host Železarec Skopje with 0–5 respectively. That would be followed by a close loss to the Azerbaijan side Araz Naxçivan with a 0–1 despite that loss. Feniks then were able to beat Tbilisi State University from Georgia with a decisive 3–7 win to qualify as the first Kosovan Futsal Club to qualify for the Elite Round, competing with the sixteen best European clubs that year. It is so far also the best result for Kosovo in a Football-based competition.[97][98] In the Elite Round itself Feniks wasn't able to qualify but had some close matches against Nikars Riga[99] 4–3 loss despite an equalizer from Brahimi and in the last match against Real Rieti even leading that match despite the loss they would finish this season as the 13th best Futsal team in Europe. The greatest achievement for Kosovo at this sport.[100]

Basketball edit

Basketball is one of the most known 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.[101] Kosovo took first part in the EuroBasket qualification for the first time in 2017.[102] Kosovo would secure their first ever win against North Macedonia in their debut winning with 72–68 at home.[103][104] Kosovo would win once more during the Pre-Qualifiers, against Estonia 75–69 to finish with a (2–2) record to advance to the first round of World Cup qualifying.[105] In the next round, Kosovo would eventually see their World Cup hopes vanish, as the team went winless before being eliminated.[106] Kosovo most recently recorded its highest win against Switzerland scoring an easy win with 76–49 in the qualification for the EuroBasket 2025 tournament. In the third round. [107][108]

Since 2013, five teams from Kosovo KB Prishtina, KB Peja, KB Trepça, KB Bashkimi and KB Rahoveci have participated in the Balkan International Basketball League (BIBL).[109] The Kosovo Basketball Federation organizes competitions in different categories for men and women. The major league of basketball is called ETC Super League following, first league, juniors' league, cadets' league, and pioneers' league. Also part of the Kosovo Basketball Federation competitions is the Cup of Kosovo. The current winner is Peja.[110] Participating teams in the ETC Super League are: KB Prishtina, Peja, Trepça, Bashkimi, KB Drita, KB Besa, RTV 21, and Kastrioti.[111] The current champion is Sigal Prishtina.[112]

KB Prishtina is the most successful Basketball team in Kosovo. They have been crowned champions of the Kosovo Basketball Superleague 14 times. They also won the Kosovo Cup 15 times most recently in 2020.[113] KB Prishtina also won the Kosovo Supercup seven times so far.[114] KB Prishtina successfully won twice the Balkan International Basketball League first in 2014–15 against BC Rilski Sportist and for the second time in 2015–16 after beating in the finals Mornar Bar.[115] Prishtina made their debut in European Basketball at the FIBA Europe Cup in 2015–16. They were able to qualify for the Play-offs for the first time in 2018–19 where they faced in the round of sixteen Pallacanestro Varese.[116][117] It is the best result for Kosovan basketball at the FIBA Europe Cup. So far Kosovan Basketball club has won 17 matches in European Basketball. KB Ylli is the most recent club who represented Kosovo at the 2022–23 FIBA Europe Cup. Their most famous win came against the German side Brose Bamberg winning away from home with 78–81 after over time.[118]

Notable players born in Kosovo who played for the very successful Yugoslavia national basketball team including Zufer Avdija, Marko Simonović, and Dejan Musli. Ferit Zekolli were the only Kosovan of Albanian descent, who played in the First Federal Basketball League in the late 1970s for KK Zadar from Croatia in the 1977–78 Saison.[119][120] One of the most famous clubs in basketball was called Elektricisti, part of the second division in the former Yugoslavia, while Zufer Avdija, a basketball player for Eleketricisti has played for the basketball national team of Yugoslavia when they were part of the European Basketball League.

The female Basketball club Univerziteti Prishtina have a long history as competing in the 1970 and '80s in the Yugoslav Women's Basketball League. Were they competed between the first and second division in Yugoslavia.They participated with success at the WABA League in 2003–04, in which they qualified for the Final Four after finishing third in the Regular season. They faced in the semifinals Croatian side Šibenik Jolly JBS in which they lost with 81–64 in the end missing out on the finals. In the third place match they faced another Croatian team in Croatia 2006 Prishtina lost this match close on the third place, finishing, this tournament in 4th place. Still one of the greatest achievements for the female Basketball club in Kosovo.[121][122]

Judo edit

Judo is a martial art 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.[123] Presently, there are 12 clubs active from different cities in Kosovo. The number of participants from all the clubs is 750 men and 250 women, while the number of active coaches is 25.[124]

Judo is the most successful individual sport in Kosovo. At the European Judo Championships the Kosovan judokas winning so far 26 medals in which of them being 8 gold 4 silver and 14 bronze, since their first participation in 2014.[125][126][127] Kosovo would be the most successful European Country at this sport in the 2021 European Judo Championships held in Lisbon, They would win two gold medals by male Judoka Akil Gjakova and Distria Krasniqi by the females, ranking Kosovo first in the medal tables.[128] Kosovo most recently broke a record after winning four medals at the 2023 European Judo Championships held in Montpellier in which they won one silber and three bronze medals in the process.[129] In the World Judo Championships they would win one gold medal in 2013 and 5 times Bronze as well.[130][131] Kosovo also secured medals in Judo at the Mediterranean Games they won nine medals in which 6 are gold, 1 silber and 2 are bronze since their debut in 2018 Tarragona.[132][133]

Kosovo for the first time ever will be organizing its own Judo event as the 2023 European Judo Championships Open will make its debut in Prishtina, during the end of the year.[134]

The most successful judoka 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, Kuka is the coach of Majlinda Kelmendi, a former judoka from Pejë who represented Kosovo in all judo competitions.[135] Kelmendi won the gold medal at the 2009 World Junior Championships in Paris, France.[136] 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.[137] However, she was not allowed to represent Kosovo at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London due to the resistance of the International Olympic Committee and the United Nations. Kelmendi gave Kosovo its first judo world title on 27 August 2013, as she beat Érika Miranda, a Brazilian judoka in the 52-kilogram 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. Majlinda Kelmendi would defend her title again at the 2014 World Judo Championships – Women's 52 kg in which she won gold at the finals. In her same year she became also a European Judo Champion in Montpellier, France, after beating in the finals Russian Natalia Kuziutina.[138] Her next Triumph prior to the Summer Olympics came at the 2016 European Judo Championships in Russia defeating in the Women's 52 kg Gold medal match, French judoka Priscilla Gneto, winning her second gold medal at the European Judo Championships for Kosovo.[139] She than would go on to win Kosovo's first ever Olympic medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in the Women's 52 kg category after beating in a close final Odette Giuffrida, to secure her first ever gold medal for her country at this competition.[140][141] Kelmendi than go on to win gold for the third time at the 2017 European Judo Championships in Warsaw in Poland.[142] It is followed by her fourth and final gold medal win at the 2019 European Games after winning the finals against Natalia Kuziutina to secure Kosovo first ever gold medal at the European Games in their history.[143][144] She competed for her second time and final time at the 2020 Summer Olympics in which her injury let her down as she lost in the second round to Hungarian Réka Pupp.[145] After that she retired her Judo Carrier by winning four European Judo Championships, two World Judo Championships and one Judo Olympic Gold medal for her country.[146][147] She is nowadays working as a Judo coach for Kosovo under Driton Kuka.[148]

Nora Gjakova won the first medal for Kosovo at the European Games when she earned bronze in the 57 kg category. At the following 2019 European Games Majlinda Kelmendi won gold in the 57 kg category. Nora Gjakova won silver and Loriana Kuka won the bronze medal in Judo as well. In total Kosovo won four medals at the European Games.

Kosovo competed with success at the Summer Olympics in Judo. Majlinda Kelmendi would win Gold in Judo at the 2016 Summer Olympics – Women's 52 kg. The first Olympic medal for Kosovo in their history. Distria Krasniqi win the first golden medal for Kosovo in Judo at the 2020 Summer Olympics – Women's 48 kg.[149] Nora Gjakova won the second gold medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics for Kosovo in Judo at the 2020 Summer Olympics – Women's 57 kg. The third golden medal in Kosovo's Olympic history.[150] Kosovo would finish the 2020 Summer Olympics at the 42 place in the end.

Boxing edit

Boxing is one of the most popular sports in Kosovo. Many Kosovan boxers competed with success, in the past for Yugoslavia and for other nations in fact such as Luan Krasniqi being the 1996 European Boxing Champion and Olympic Bronze medalist for Germany,[151] or Arnold Gjergjaj. Nowadays Ilir Latifi compete in UFC for Sweden. Robin Krasniqi who is born in Istog in Kosovo, competing for Germany in Boxing. He held the IBO light-heavyweight and WBA interim light-heavyweight championship.[152]

Aziz Salihu is the most successful Boxer in Kosovo. He won eight Yugoslav championships in which of them five consecutive. Aziz would win two bronze medals at the European Championships first in 1981 Tampere[153] and 1985 in Budapest. He won at the 1984 Summer Olympics the bronze medal in Super heavyweight. He competed at the Boxing World Cup held in 1987 Belgrade and won the bronze medal in Super heavyweight.[154] Aziz would win Gold in Boxing at the 1987 Mediterranean Games held in Syria.[155] Aziz Salihu became the first Kosovan to compete for the third time for Yugoslavia in Boxing at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.[156]

Sami Buzoli is a boxer who boxed for Prishtina. He competed for Yugoslavia for the first time, at the European Championships in 1981. He reached the finals in the Bantamweight category, in which he lost against Viktor Miroshnichenko. He would repeat his feet at the following European Championships in 1983 Varna, when he won silver for the second time, in his boxing career.[157] The year before he competed at the World Boxing Championship in 1982 Munich, in which he would win Bronze in the Bantamweight category as well.[158]

Mehmet Bogujevci is a well known Boxer in Kosovo and Yugoslavia. He won five boxing Championships for Prishtina in Yugoslavia.[159] At the European Championships in 1977 Halle he would win Bronze in light welterweight.[160] He would compete at the World Boxing Championship in 1978 Belgrad in which he would win silber in light welterweight. One year later he would win Gold in boxing at the Mediterranean Games in 1979 Split.[161] Mehmet Bogujevci became the first individual athlete from Kosovo to compete for Yugoslavia at the Olympics at the 1980 Summer Olympics in the men's welterweight category, reaching the quarterfinals, in his sole participation at the Summer Olympics for Yugoslavia.

Besim Kabashi is a known Kickboxer in Kosovo and Germany. He boxed between 1997 and 2002 in the Light Heavyweight and Super Heavyweight divisions, winning in his debut year the WKA German Light Heavyweight title. He would return once more to the ring four years later in 2006. He had immediate success, as he beat Zoran Dorcic in the second round to become the WKA European Super Heavyweight Champion in 2007. Besim would then beat Yahya Gülay in the fourth round to become WKA World Heavyweight in 2008 he would defend his title three more years, before his death in 2011.[162] In his total carrier he lost only one fight out of his 66 fights winning 65 fights during his time.[163]

Donjeta Sadiku is a well known female boxer from Prishtina. Donjeta made her debut for Kosovo at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokio in the Women's lightweight discipline.[164] Being the first Boxer from Kosovo to represent her country. Sadiku won the bronze medal at the 2022 IBA Women's World Boxing Championships in Istanbul. She won the first medal for Kosovo in the Boxing World Championship.[165] She would follow her medal drain after winning again the bronze medal at the Women's European Boxing Championships in 2022 Budva. The first medal for Kosovo after 35 Years in this competition.[166] She recently wrote history for Kosovo after qualifying directly to the 2024 Summer Olympics by beating in the Olympic Qualification Tournament four opponents.[167] In the first round she defeated Shona Whitwell with 5-0 [168] after that she were able to beat Greek boxer Christina Linardatou also confidently with 5–0.[169] Donjeta secured the finals after beating the German Maria Felicitas Ganglbauer once more with 5–0.[170] She become the first boxer from Kosovo to qualify to the Olympic Games in Boxing directly after beating in the finals Alessia Mesiano close with 3-2 it is the second sport in which Kosovo achieved this feet so far at the Olympic Games.[171][172]

Handball edit

The first big handball teams[clarification needed] were formed during 1948, including Milicionar (Milicionari), Jedinstvo Gjakova (Jedinstvo Đakovica), Buduçnost Pejë (Buducnost Pec), Trepça Mitrovicë (Trepča Mitrovica), Kosova, and Prishtina. Small handball (modern handball) was introduced in 1950–1951. Handball teams succeeded in joining the first and second leagues in the former Yugoslavia, which at that time (1970–1980) was among the strongest leagues in the world.[173] Teams such as Borci, Prishtina and Trepca reached 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.

From 13 to 23 October 1979, the women's World Junior Championships, Kosova '79, were held in Kosovo. The participants were: Austria, USSR, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Yugoslavia, Norway, DR Germany, FR Germany and United States.[174]

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, KH Kastrioti and KH Trepça participated in European competitions.[175]

Nowadays in Kosovo there is a handball super league (major league), cup of Kosovo, first league, juniors' league, and cadets' league in both the women's and men's categories. Another part of Kosovo Handball Federation is beach handball. Participating clubs in the super league are: Besa Famgas, Prishtina, Kosova, Kastrioti, Zhegra, Drenica, Vëllaznimi, Trepça, Samadrexha, Llapi, and Drita. The 2014 champion was KH Prishtina.[176]

The greatest success so far was achieved in the Cell Cup tournament in Hungary in 2013, where the Kosovo U18 team took second place in a competition with teams from across Europe.[177] Kosovo would host the 2019 IHF Inter-Continental Trophy in Prishtina. In which the Kosovo U21 men's handball national were able to win this competition after beating Chinese Taipei in the finals with 30–26, to qualify for the first time ever to the IHF Men's Junior World Championship in 2019 Spain.[178] They became the first national team in Kosovo to qualify for a world championship, in any team sports.[179][180] Kosovo faced in Group C Croatia, Brazil, Portugal, Hungary, and Bahrain. Kosovo's debut was promising as they lost just close against Croatia with 23–17.[181] but despite that they couldn't get closer in their results in the next three matches, losing to their opponents.[182] Kosovo wrote history against Bahrain as they would draw with 29–29 against them, securing their first ever points in a Men's Junior World Championship.[183] Kosovo would than compete in the 21st–24th place semifinals facing Argentina. They couldn't beat them as they lost close with 29–36. But in their final match against Australia they would secure their first-ever win in a Handball Junior World Championship after winning this time comfortably with 38–20 to finish this tournament in the 23rd place.[184][185]

The Kosovo women's under 18 would secure an spot on the IHF Women's Youth World Championship. After winning the 2024 IHF Inter-Continental Trophy[186] by beating Nigeria in the finals 16–22 to secure its second participations, in the countries history at this sport. They will participate at the 2024 Women's Youth World Handball Championship held in China.[187]

The Kosovo men's national handball team is a recognized member since 2014 in the EHF and IHF.[188] After a short time Kosovo would hold its first Handball Tournament the 2015 IHF Emerging Nations Championship was held in Prishtina. They impressively would win the bronze medal in their debut participation. Defeating Uruguay for third place with a result of 28–16, the first medal in their young Handball history. Kosovo would follow the same achievement in the following Tournament winning bronze again in Bulgaria 2017 beating Cyprus with 32–25 in the end. Securing them also a spot to the Second phase of qualification for the European Men's Handball Championship 2020.[189] Kosovo were drawn in Group 1 against Germany, Poland and Israel. The Dardanians were able to get some fair results after beating Israel at home 27-24 their first win in such a stage.[190] They also secure an unlucky last second draw against Poland.[191] Despite not qualifying to the main event Kosovo were able to actually compete with the 32 best European national teams in Handball.[192] In the following Qualification for the 2022 European Men's Handball Championship. Kosovo once more qualified for the Playoffs. In Group 8 they faced Sweden, Montenegro and Romania. After a draw at home Against Romania with 23-23 [193] they were able to secure their first-ever away win in this face after beating surprisingly Romania in the following match with 25–30 in full time. [194] Kosovo couldn't gain another win as they lost to Montenegro once more at home this time with 22–27.[195] Missing out close once more on their first ever European Men's Handball Championship participation, after finishing third in the end. One of the greatest achievements in the Kosovan Handball history.[196]

At the 2021 World Men's Handball Championship – European qualification tournament, Kosovo drew with Italy 26–26 and defeated Georgia 30–21 to take second place, behind Romania, in the qualifying group, but were not able to progress to the second phase of qualifying.[197]

Achievements in Handball edit

Sport in Kosovo
Medal record
IHF Emerging Nations Championship
  2015 Kosovo
  2017 Bulgaria

Volleyball edit

Volleyball first appeared in Kosovo in 1936 in the high schools of cities like Prishtinë, Pejë, and Prizren. The first championship was held in Pristina from 24 to 26 October 1948, with six teams participating: Proleteri, Buduçnosti, Trepça, Borac, Metohia, and 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. The 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.[198] Today the 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 juniors 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.[199] The current champion is KV Luboteni.[200]

Athletics edit

Athletics is a sport that includes running, walking, jumping, and throwing and is evidenced since the Illyrian period. The Athletics Federation of Kosovo is an association of athletes and their clubs that organize sports competitions in the discipline of athletics in Kosovo.[201] The Athletics Federation of Kosovo was founded on 25 September 1991 in Prishtine. Some of the main responsibilities of 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.[202] This association would not be so successful without the important achievements of their respective clubs. There are 13 active clubs, but the most successful ones are Atberia, Besa, Juniku, Llapi, Prishtina, Prizreni, and Trepca.[203] From 25 clubs there are 196 males registered and 125 females registered, comprising a total of 330 active athletics in Kosovo.[204] Among many other activities, 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.[205]

In the 2023 Jeux de la Francophonie in Kinshasa Kosovo were able to secure its first medals in athletics at this competition. As Gresa Bakraqi would secure the Silber medal in the 3000 m steeplechase with a time of 10:48,25.[206] Muhamet Ramadani won the second silber medal at the same sport for his country with 18.36 meters in total. Kosovo first two medals in athletics at those games.[207]

Kosovo would make their debut in Athletics at the 2019 European Youth Summer Olympic Festival held in Baku. In which Muhamet Ramadani would win Gold in Shot put. Kosovo's first-ever athletic medal in their history.[208][209] Kosovo ranked 26th in the end. Recently Kosovo participated in the 2021 European Athletics U20 Championships held in Tallinn. In which they would win one gold medal in Shot put, at the end Kosovo ranked 15th.[210] Most recently Kosovo would secure its next medal win in the 2023 European Athletics U23 Championships in which Muhamet Ramadani secure a bronze medal with a score of 19.20. It was his first medal win at those games.

Karate edit

Karate in Kosovo is recently quite popular by the younger population. The most recent Male Championship was won by Argjend Berjani from Klubi Prishtina. The Female Championship winner was Antoneta Butakova from Klubi Prishtina as well for the year 2021.[211]

In the European Karate Championships Kosovo having won so far two bronze medals at this Championship, most recently in the 2022 European Karate Championships in Gaziantep. As Elhami Shabani would win the bronze medal in the Men's 75 kg category.[212] The most recent success came for Kosovo at the 2023 World Karate Championships in which the Women's team kumite would win the bronze medal after beating Kazakhstan 2–0 in the Bronze medal match.[213] That is also Kosovo's first ever medal so far in a World Karate Championship.[214]

In the European Games Kosovo would also participate in Karate in those games, with the best result caming in the Men's kumite 84 kg. Alvin Karaqi would qualify for the Semifinals after winning his three matches in this group, notably beating favorite Uğur Aktaş with 3–1. In the semifinals he would face Aykhan Mamayev from Azerbaijan, losing his fight, despite that he faced Uğur Aktaş again for the Bronze medal match. Although having a 3–1 lead he couldn't hold on to it, as he lost just seconds before the end of this match with 3–4 finishing this championship in a 4th place, so far the best result for Kosovo in Karate at the European Games.[215][216] Alvin also would once more participate for Kosovo. At the 2019 European Games, where he also missed out close on a medal win again. As he finished only third in his Group and fifth in the end.[217] Despite not participating for Kosovo at the 2023 European Games this time around. He would win his and Albania's first ever Gold medal at the European Games. After beating in the Semifinals World Champion Michele Martina from Italy 3-2 and in the finals Brian Timmermans from the Netherlands with the same result.[218][219][220]

Herolind Nishevci is a known Karateka born in Prishtina. He won in his Karate career two bronze medals, being so the most successful Karateka for Kosovo. He won in the 2016 World Karate Championships Bronze in the +84 Category. The first medal won for Kosovo, at the World Karate Championships.[221] Herolind also won the bronze medal at the 2021 European Karate Championships in Poreč in the same category, for Kosovo.[222][223]

Chess edit

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.[224] 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.[225] Clubs in the Second League are Ferizaji, Shpeta, Vitia and Shara.[226]

Tennis edit

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 groups. KT Prishtina was founded on 27 June 1992 and is the oldest club in Kosovo. It has many players who are ranked highly 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. KT Trepca was founded on 15 July 2003 and has its own tennis school which consists of 47 students. The main objective of the association is to group the teams and organized games between the clubs.[227][clarification needed] Presently, there are ten clubs such as KT Prishtina, KT DielliX, KT Trepca, and KT Rahoveci.[228] 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.[229] This is a significant step toward the internationalization of tennis. The most famous tournaments with the highest participation are Sporek Open, Dielli Open, Trepca Open, Drenica Open, Prishtina Open and Masters.

Kosovo became the 50th member of Tennis Europe on 28 March 2015.[230] which became effective in 2016. They made their debut at this sport when they participate at the 2016 Davis Cup in the Europe Zone Group D III.[231] The Kosovo Davis Cup team just recently improve on its results in the 2023 Davis Cup. They won all of their three Group matches beating in the process Iceland 2–1 [232] Azerbaijan[233] 2–1 and Albania with 2–0 respectively. In the Playoffs they beat Andorra 2–0 to promote themselves back to the third division of the following 2024 Davis Cup.[234]

The female tennis player representing Kosovo at the Billie Jean King Cup since 2016.[235] Their first success came at the 2019 Fed Cup in the Europe/Africa Zone Group III – Pool B where they finished second in the standings. Winning against North Macedonia with 1-2 and against Algeria with the same result.[236] They faced Lithuania in the Play-offs where they lost with 0–2 to finish their campaign in 4th place. In the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup Kosovo were able to reach another milestone. As they were able to win all matches in Pool D in Skopje. Beating in the process Kenya with a 3-0 match win, then Albania close with 2–1 and against Namibia they received a walkthrough. With this result it meant that Kosovo were promoted to the Playoffs for the first time ever in the history of the country.[237][238] In the Playoffs Semifinals Kosovo faced North Macedonia. Losing this match with 2–0 against the host. [239] They would finish third at the end, being promoted to the Group II Division in the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup.[240] In which the female Tennis players from Kosovo would prevail, as they won two matches in this phase against Ireland 2-1 and South Africa 3–0 to secure another stay in the second Division. Finishing 7th in total, after losing to Bosnia and Herzegovina 2–0 in the Playoffs. It is the best result so far for Kosovo at this sport.[241] As of 2023 they are ranking 52nd in the world rankings.[242]

The most successful tennis player from Kosovo is Adrijana Lekaj who won so far two singles and eight doubles titles in the ITF Circuit.[243] Other known players are Donika Bashota who won two doubles titles in 2013[244] and Arlinda Rushiti who achieved the most wins for Kosovo at the Billie Jean King Cup with 13–13 in to

Rugby edit

The governing body for rugby union in Kosovo is the Kosovo Rugby Federation which was founded in 2018[245] and became a member of Rugby Europe on 3 December 2021.[246] The Kosovo national rugby sevens team made its debut in an international rugby event at the Men's Sevens Conference 2 tournament on 11 June 2022 in Malta.[247][248]

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 men's team. They have contributed to the path towards recognition of Kosovo Rugby Association by the World Rugby Organization and IOC.[249]

Disability sports edit

The Paralympic Committee of Kosovo gained provisional membership of the International Paralympic Committee in July 2022 and a team representing Kosovo is expected to make its debut at the Paralympic Games in 2024.[250]

Special Olympics Kosovo was founded in 2002. Athletes from Kosovo first took part in the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games held in Dublin. This was the first time a team represented Kosovo at an international multisport event.[251][252][253] Kosovo has participated in every Special Olympics World Summer Games since 2003 and Special Olympics World Winter Games since 2013. Their first successful medals came at the 2019 Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi. In which the Kosovan delegation won three medals.[254] Sheqir Vllasaliu won gold in athletics at the 200m run.[255] While the other two remaining bronze medals where won, by athlete Ibish Zogaj.[256]

Traditional sports edit

Young and old people playing traditional sports.

Albaniada is an event that is aimed at being traditional; it gathers together both young and old from all Albanian territories to play traditional games and sports. The main goal of this event is to 'bring back to life' games and sports that have been traditionally played in Albania.[257] 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).[258] These kinds of sports can be played in an indoor environment like Oda or outside.[259]

Sports fan clubs edit

Kosovan people are known for the support they show for their local teams. There are four big fan clubs: Plisat, supporting Pristina; Torcida, supporting Trepça; Intelektualët, supporting FC Drita; and Skifterat, supporting SC Gjilani.

Plisat edit

Founded1987; 37 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.[260] 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 particularly notable was when, in 1983, more than 7000 supporters followed FC Prishtina to the Marakana stadium in Belgrade in the club's historical victory over Red Star Belgrade in the at-the-time strong Yugoslav First League.

Besides supporting the football team, after the Kosovo war, Plisat started to also support their basketball team, Sigal Prishtina, and handball teams. They started to shape their 'support style' by cheering for 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.[261]

Torcida edit

Torcida Mitrovicë
Established20 March 1984; 40 years ago (1984-03-20)
ArenaAdem Jashari Olympic Stadium, Minatori Sports Hall
LocationMitrovica, Kosovo
Team colorsGreen and black
Affiliation(s)  Tifozat Kuq e Zi

Trepça's main supporters are Torcida Mitrovicë. They were officially founded by Shefqet Begu also known as Qeti on the 20 March 1984.[262][263] Torcida Mitrovicë are considered to be the oldest Albanian ultras. Except of the Trepça clubs (KF Trepça; KB Trepça; KH Trepça), they also support the Albanian national football team.

Shqiponjat edit

Founded1993; 31 years ago (1993)
ArenaKaragaq Sports Hall
LocationPeja, Kosovo
Team colorsBlack and yellow

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

Intelektualët edit

Founded1998; 26 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
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 of the ten clubs that share the name Drita. This fan club mostly supports the biggest club of Gjilan – the football club Drita in the matches organized in the City Stadium of Gjilan, but the Intellectuals also cheer for the teams in basketball, volleyball and handball for both genres.[clarification needed] The colors that characterize this fan club are white and blue, as those are the colors all clubs named Drita use.[264]

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 factions within the club which used the club and its infrastructure as camouflage to organise clandestine meetings with other patriots of the Kosovo Albanian patriotic movement. Initially, the fan 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 these subgroups in the period around 2000 to 2002 were "Holy Blue" and "White and Blue Hooligans".

Nowadays, Intelektualët are the biggest and most active tifo groups after the war.

Arpagjik't edit

Founded2000; 24 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, and headed to the local stadium 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, the groups Arpagjik't and The Panthers merged under one same name – Arpagjik't.

The first flag for the Panthers was prepared in 2001, measuring 20 by 7 meters, on 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 which 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 local indoor arenas in which the local clubs play games, prepare the stands with requisites, flags and club scarves.

Founded1999; 25 years ago (1999)
TypeSupporters' group
ClubSC Gjilani
StadiumGjilan City Stadium

Skifterat edit

Skifterat, in English 'Falcons', was founded in September 1999 in the city of Gjilan.

Their colours are red and white and they support SC Gjilani. The name Skifterat ('Falcons') is a tribute to a battalion of soldiers within the KLA, where most of the soldiers were from the city of Gjilan.

The fan club is located in the city of Gjilan and it supports the football team SC Gjilani. They supported SC Gjilani many years before the war, but did not have a name prior to September 1999. They formed a group that they named Skifterat in the first football season after the war in Kosovo.

Skifterat take pride in being the most unique fan base in Kosovo. Most of the other fan clubs have teams from other sports to support which associate with their team's name. Skifterat only has one team, SC Gjilani, which does not have any other sports associated with their name.

Skifterat take pride in supporting a club that has not had any success lately[when?] and still they have always been there being their 12th player through rough times.

Skifterat were very active in the early days, being one of the first organized fan bases in Kosovo and bringing new things to the tifo scene in Kosovo.

Skifterat are one of the most organized fans in Kosovo, supporting their team home and away.

Sports venues edit


Rank Stadium Capacity City Home team
1 Olympic Stadium Adem Jashari 28,500 Mitrovica KF Trepça
2 Fadil Vokrri Stadium 16,200 Prishtina FC Prishtina
3 Gjilan City Stadium 15,000 Gjilan FC Drita & SC Gjilani
4 Përparim Thaçi Stadium 15,000 Prizren KF Liria
5 Riza Lushta Stadium 12,000 Mitrovica KF Trepça'89
6 Agron Rama Stadium 10,000 Obiliq KF KEK
7 Shahin Haxhiislami Stadium 8,500 Peja KF Besa
8 Gjakova City Stadium 6,000 Gjakova KF Vëllaznimi
9 Demush Mavraj Stadium 6,000 Istog KF Istogu
10 Ferki Aliu Stadium 5,000 Vushtrria KF Vushtrria
11 Llukar Stadium 3,000 Prishtina KF Beselidhja
12 Ismet Shabani Stadium 2,000 Ferizaj KF Ferizaj
13 Zahir Pajaziti Stadium 2,000 Podujevë KF Llapi
14 Merdare Stadium 2,000 Podujevë KF Hysi
15 Flamurtari Stadium 2,000 Prishtina KF Flamurtari
16 Bajram Aliu Stadium 2,000 Skenderaj KF Drenica

International sports membership edit

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.[266] 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 one 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.[267] On 8 December 2014, Olympic Committee of Kosovo became a full member of International Olympic Committee.[268] The acceptance of Kosovo in the International Olympic Committee can have a significant positive impact in accepting other sport federations in the international level.

The International Committee of Mediterranean Games launched the bidding process for the 2030 Mediterranean Games at a meeting of its executive committee held on 10 December 2022 in Prishtina, Kosovo.[269][270][271][272] In April 2023, the International Committee of Mediterranean Games (CIJM) announced the end of the candidature process and the sole candidate city, Prishtina, for the 2030 Games.[273] Prishtina was confirmed as the host city on 8 September 2023 during the ICMG General Assembly with 55 votes in favour, eight against and three abstentions.[273][274] it will be the second time only that these games are organized in the Western Balkans, following the 1979 Mediterranean Games in Split when it was then Yugoslavia.

Accepted membership applications edit

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

Medal winners in the Olympics, European Games and Mediterranean Games edit

Medal winners in the Youth and European Olympics for Kosovo edit

Kosovar sportspeople edit

Yugoslavia/ Serbia and Montenegro edit

Other countries edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Began to represent Serbia prior to 2008 Kosovo declaration of independence and continued after
  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
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