Soccer's international governing body, FIFA, has voted to allow its 208 member countries to begin playing international friendlies with Kosovo.
The move is a significant boost to Kosovo's bid for international recognition.
Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia in February 2008.
European soccer's governing body, UEFA, opposed the move, but FIFA's 24-member board approved the motion put forward by FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
It was not immediately clear whether UEFA would bar its members from playing friendlies against Kosovo.
Serbia's soccer federation protested to FIFA immediately after the decision was announced.
It said the decision was made without consulting UEFA or the Serbian association and called for an urgent meeting with Blatter and his UEFA counterpart, Michel Platini.
Kosovo has been recognized by 90 United Nations members, including 22 of the 27 European Union member states.
With reporting by AP, Reuters, and dpa