By Nick Butler at House of Sport in Pristina 

Kosovo Olympic Committee President Besim Hasani believes the the latest Kosovo football international will boost the country's prospects of Olympic qualification ©ITGKosovo's second official international football match, due to take place against Turkey here tomorrow, has been hailed by Olympic Committee of Kosovo President Besim Hasani as a means to boost the country's bid for Olympic inclusion. 

The Balkan Republic, which declared independence in 2008 and is now recognised by 107 United Nations member states, was granted permission to play international friendly matches by world governing body FIFA in January this year.

Following a historic debut match against Haiti in March, which ended in a 0-0 draw in front of 18,000 home supporters in the Olympic Stadium Adem Jashari in Mitrovica, the second match will offer a tougher test against a Turkish side ranked 39th in the FIFA World Rankings.

More significantly, it will once again offer a vital opportunity to bring the nation together as well as gain some much needed international exposure.

"Football is our most popular sport," Hasani told insidethegames here today.

"The match a few weeks ago between Kosovo and Haiti I think raised the interest of all the nation,

"It was not just a football match but a festival, and if we had a stadium with 200,000 seats we would have had 200,000 people there.

"The interest of international media was also important, and increased our hopes that one day our athletes will have the possibility to compete in internationals and World Cup matches."

The Kosovan football team ahead of their first international against Haiti ©AFP/Getty ImagesThe Kosovan football team ahead of their first international against Haiti
©AFP/Getty Images

Hasani also claimed the long-standing campaign to gain Kosovo's membership into the International Olympic Committee is being boosted by the attention brought by the "world's most popular sport".

Due to the fact the country is unable to gain United Nations membership, down mainly to Russia's use of its veto as a permanent member on the UN Security Council, the campaign is dependent on the IOC changing its interpretation of the Olympic Charter.

Rule 30 of the Charter dictates that all IOC members must be "an independent state recognised by the international community", something that Kosovo justifiably claims to fulfil due to the fact 107 of the 193 UN members have granted recognition.

But in practice this statute has been taken to mean full UN membership, meaning Kosovo is likely to remain ineligible unless a different interpretation is adopted.

"I think the attention the football team are receiving will help create a better atmosphere and, hopefully, leading figures in the Olympic Movement will think about how they must help our athletes further," Hasani said.

"This will allow them to solve the political problem and accept our National Olympic Committee as a member of the IOC."

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