Kosovo has been accepted as the 55th member of UEFA, opening the door for the country to apply for FIFA recognition.
UEFA’s annual Congress voted 28-24 in favour of Kosovo, whose election was strongly opposed by neighbouring Serbia, from which it declared independence in 2008.
The decision taken in Hungary’s capital Budapest means Kosovo’s application for FIFA membership will be voted on at world football’s governing body’s Congress in Mexico City, scheduled to be held on May 12 and 13.
Provided they are accepted, Kosovo’s club sides would be able to compete in UEFA tournaments, while its national team could be awarded a place in the qualifying competition for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, despite the draw having already been held in Russia last July.
The Balkan country could potentially be added to one of Europe's two five-team groups, either pitting them against Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Estonia and Cyprus in Group H, or Croatia, Iceland, Ukraine, Turkey and Finland in Group I.
"Kosovo in UEFA! The best news for countless fans in our republic," said Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi on his Facebook page.
"Now we will play in international championships, some games will be won some will be lost but no-one will ever keep us out from green fields."
Prior to the vote, the Serbian Football Association President Tomislav Karadzic had urged the Congress to turn down the application, describing it as a case of politics interfering with sport.
"This is a political, not a footballing proposal," he said.
"We are facing a stern test, we must say no to politics, no to divisions that are maybe detrimental.
"It would create tumult in the region and open a Pandora’s box throughout Europe."
Kosovo are currently only allowed to play friendly matches organised by FIFA, with certain restrictions applying such as a ban on the country facing clubs and teams from countries of the former Yugoslavia.
The country’s complicated political status has seen several players born in the state play for different countries.
These include Xherdan Shaqiri and Valon Behrami, both of whom represent Switzerland, as well as Finland’s Shefki Kuqi and Albania’s Lorik Cana.
FIFA rules do not allow players to change allegiance, however, there have been rumours that it could make an exception for Kosovo.
Elsewhere, UEFA has scheduled an emergency meeting of its Executive Committee for later this month with a view to selecting a election date in the event that banned President Michel Platini fails in his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to overturn his six-year ban from football.
European football’s governing body are due to hold a special gathering alongside the Europa League final in Swiss city Basel on May 18.
Former French international Platini, absent from today’s Congress, was initially given an eight-year ban by FIFA in December along with ex-FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
This decision was made by the Adjudicatory Chamber of FIFA's Ethics Committee due to an alleged "disloyal" payment of CHF2 million (£1.4 million/$2.1 million/€1.8 million) made to the Frenchman by the Swiss in 2011.
These bans were then cut to six years by the FIFA Appeals Committee.
Both men have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, however, and want to see their bans completely quashed.
A verdict is expected on May 9, with Blatter - who appeared as a witness during last week’s hearing - also taking his case to the body.
UEFA is delaying electing a new President until all appeal avenues have been exhausted.
Spaniard Ángel María Villar has been appointed acting President of the body, while Greece's Theodore Theodoridis is serving as interim general secretary until a full-time successor to newly-elected FIFA President Gianni Infantino is in place.
"Our sport has suffered much in recent times," said Villar at the Congress.
"I’m thinking of our President, Mr Michel Platini, who has just made his appeal to CAS.
"I very much hope that Michel will be back among us any day now but I would remind you that UEFA has a road map to follow, for the continued development of football at European level whatever CAS decides."
Infantino was making his first appearance before his European supporters since being elected FIFA President.
The Swiss took up his post in February having made a pledge to give each of FIFA's 209 Member Associations $5 million (£3.5 million/€4.5 million) every four years from World Cup revenues and $40 million (£27.5 million/€35 million) to the six continental Confederations.
He appealed to delegates in Budapest to donate more money to poor non-European countries.
"I want to make a plea to you," said Infantino.
"The funds have been increased to this famous $5 million over four years but for you in UEFA this is not a big amount compared to what you generate.
"If you in Europe don’t need all this money from FIFA, give it to other associations around the world.
"Invest it in projects around the world."