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Finland midfielder Hetemaj opts to miss game against Kosovo

Finnish footballer Perparim Hetemaj has refused to play against the country of his birth, Kosovo, in a World Cup qualifier next month. The game is Kosovo's first-ever competitive international—and Hetemaj could in future choose to represent them rather than Finland.

Perparim Hetemaj
Perparim Hetemaj Image: Tomi Hänninen

Finland midfielder Perparim Hetemaj has a big decision ahead of him, as the country of his birth, Kosovo, becomes a fully-fledged international football team. Their first competitive match will be against Finland on 5 August in Turku—and Hetemaj has refused to play for Finland.

Coach Hans Backe, who named his squad for the match on Wednesday, said that he understood the decision.

"We'll discuss the future in a few weeks, after the first qualifier," said Finland coach Hans Backe. "The situation is very difficult, you have to respect his decision."

29-year-old Hetemaj was born in Kosovo before moving to Finland with his family as refugees. He has played 42 games for the Finnish national team and currently represents the Italian team Chievo Verona.

Fifa rules on players declaring for Kosovo remain unclear, but by sitting out the match Hetemaj retains the option of switching to Kosovo down the line.

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