Kosovo has taken a huge step towards FIFA membership after world football's governing body said its 208 member countries could start playing friendly internationals against teams from the Balkan province.
FIFA and UEFA, European soccer's governing body, had previously blocked Kosovo's attempts to play internationals because it was not recognised by the United Nations.
However, FIFA President Sepp Blatter urged his executive committee to approve the change at its meeting Tuesday and on Wednesday announced he hoped this accelerated Kosovo's drive to full membership of the organisation.
Other sporting federations could follow suit, giving Kosovo another step towards wider international recognition.
After nine years as a ward of the United Nations, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008.