Posted: Friday May 24, 2013 12:39 PM

Gibraltar accepted as full European soccer member

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LONDON (AP) - Gibraltar is now a full European soccer member, raising the continent's total to 54.

The move Friday had been resisted by some politicians in neighboring Spain. They wanted to stop the British territory on Spain's southern tip from joining European soccer's governing body.

Gibraltar may now enter qualifying competition for the 2016 European Championship. UEFA President Michel Platini said Spain would be kept apart from the territory during qualifying to ease political tension.

Spain ceded the territory to Britain in 1713. Gibraltar has a population of almost 30,000, with full British citizenship.

Gibraltar has six top-division teams and 600 registered senior players. The Gibraltar Football Association was founded in 1895 and applied for FIFA membership in 1997 with England's backing. The world governing body delegated the decision to UEFA.
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