The Kosovo Olympic Committee has stated matches have been moved from Spain to Switzerland ©Kosovo Olympic Committee

The Kosovo Olympic Committee (KOC) have stated qualifying matches for the UEFA Under-17 European Championships have been moved from Spain after an alleged refusal from the host nation to allow their national symbols to be shown.

Spain were due to host Group Five of the elite round of qualification for the annual football competition.

They are in a group with Greece, Kosovo and Ukraine, with three rounds of matches initially scheduled to be held from March 20 to 26.

The Spanish Government does not recognise the state of Kosovo, however, which has previously led to disputes prior to sporting events.

One emerged at last year's World Karate Championships in Madrid, where the Spanish Government refused to allow Kosovo to compete under their own flag.

Athletes did compete under the World Karate Federation banner, but did not participate in the Opening Ceremony.

Kosovo participated at the 2018 Mediterranean Games in Spain, winning three gold medals, but their flag was prohibited from the Opening Ceremony in Tarragona. 

Flagbearer Herolind Nishevci instead carried the banner of the KOC, which bears a miniature version of the national flag set above the Olympic rings.

The KOC said UEFA have opted to move matches away from Spain due to the latest dispute.

UEFA have confirmed to insidethegames that the matches will take place at Nyon in Switzerland from March 25 to 31.

"We confirm that these U17 matches will not be played in Spain, as the national symbols of Kosovo are not recognised/authorised in the country," a UEFA spokesperson said.

"This U-17 mini-tournament will be played in Switzerland.

A refusal over showing Kosovan national symbols is claimed to be behind the decision to move matches from Spain ©Getty Images
A refusal over showing Kosovan national symbols is claimed to be behind the decision to move matches from Spain ©Getty Images

"Such a decision has been taken by UEFA, thanks to President Agim Ademi's insistence that our national team will be presented with all the symbols in these matches, which was unacceptable to the Spanish authorities," the Kosovo Football Federation said.

"Although during the UEFA Congress, President Ademi has asked his Spanish counterpart, Luis Rubiales, to use his influence on Spanish institutions not to hinder the entry of our expedition into any form, this has not succeeded.

"Thus, President Ademi pressured UEFA to resolve this issue and as a result the European football institution decided to take over the organisation to the Spanish Federation.

"Given the fact that in the group with Kosovo are two other countries that have not accepted the independence of our country, Greece and Ukraine, then UEFA decided that the host country of the Group Five matches to be Switzerland.

"Matches from this group will take place from 25 to 31 March."

There has been a growing push from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in recent months to ensure the participation of all athletes at events when they are disputes between countries.

IOC President Thomas Bach called on sport to "show its teeth" by taking action to combat cases of countries restricting the way other nations participate at competitions on political grounds.

The latest example has come in India, with the IOC deciding to "suspend all discussions" with the country earlier this week over applications to host future events.

This came after two Pakistani athletes were refused visas for the International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup in New Delhi.

This year's World Para Swimming Championships were stripped from Malaysia after they refused to allow visas for Israel.