Bosnia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry did not provide visas for the Kosovo U 16 basketball team, even though they are supposed to compete at the U 16 European Championship, Division B, which began in Sarajevo, on Thursday.
Bosnia’s Basketball Association (KSBiH) reacted saying they took all the necessary measures so that the Kosovo team would get their visas on time. Bosnia’s Embassy in Macedonia told them that the visas are ready and that they are waiting for the approval of Minister Igor Crnadak in order to issue them to the Kosovo team.
On Wednesday, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) wrote to the KSBiH and Bosnia’s Foreign Ministry warning them that the Kosovo Association said the Embassy of Bosnia in Skopje refused to issue them visas and that they are unable to attend the Championship in Sarajevo.
"FIBA stipulated that the organizer is obliged to issue visas and in case they don’t, FIBA will sanction the organizer, which includes financial sanctions. Should the Kosovo team not receive their visas, such a move could harm the Association not just financially, but it could threaten the KSBiH’s future cooperation with this international body which has previously greatly supported our association," the KSBiH said.
The Ministry, however, told a different story. "Since the bylaws in force stipulate that the Ministry will respond to visa requests within three days after their reception, the requests the Ministry received Tuesday afternoon are still being considered," the Ministry said.
They added that on Thursday, they also received additional information from the KSBiH, from which they concluded that the Association itself is not completely in favour of the Kosovo team taking part in the Championship, which was confirmed by several members of the KSBiH and the Basketball Association of the Republika Srpska (RS) entity, one of two Bosnia’s entities, each of which have their own associations and basketball sub-divisions, from which best teams play in the state league.
Namely, "the RS representatives were clearly against the participation of the Kosovo team in the European Championship, held in Sarajevo," the Ministry said.
"The lack of consensus within the KSBiH, concerning the Championship organisation and the Kosovo team’s participation leads to the transfer of potential liability and forces the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to play the role of an arbitrator. The Ministry is not and should not be responsible for any disagreement within sports associations in the country," the ministry concluded.
With these two opposing views, the solution to this problem is nowhere in sight. The Kosovo team is still not competing and if they miss the entire Championship, the KSBiH could face grave consequences.