Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

CONIFA: the alternative World Cup

CONIFA: the alternative World Cup Con Chronis/CONIFA
14 Jun
2018
As the world’s top footballers battle it out in Russia, a gathering of unrecognised nations had their own moment in the sporting spotlight

You won’t see the likes of Abkhazia, Northern Cyprus or Tibet competing in this year’s FIFA World Cup. As ‘unrecognised nations’, their football associations are ineligible to be members of FIFA, the official world football governing body, meaning their players traditionally have no tournament in which to play, their fans having no team to cheer on.

That all changed in 2014 when CONIFA, the Confederation of Independent Football Associations, hosted its first ever World Football Cup in Sweden, where Nice beat the Isle of Man in the final. Subsequent tournaments followed, and this summer, 16 CONIFA members gathered in London – some from as far away as the south Pacific island of Tuvalu, or Matabeleland, in west Zimbabwe – to compete in the largest tournament the organisation has yet hosted.

membersThe locations of all CONIFA members (Image: CONIFA)

‘CONIFA is an international football governing body, bringing together representative selections that represent countries, linguistic minorities or remote territories that feel excluded from the international football family,’ explains Sascha Düerkop, General Secretary of CONIFA. ‘All our members are not members of FIFA and their players, coaches and referees alike do not feel represented by any of the 211 FIFA members.’ Associations interested in joining CONIFA have to demonstrate their minority ethnic, cultural and/or linguistic heritage when they apply, with existing members making the final decision about who gets to join.

This year’s tournament was won by Karpatalya – representing the ethnic Hungarian minority in west Ukraine – defeating Northern Cyprus on penalties after a 0-0 draw in the final in Enfield. Despite the logistical difficulties of arranging an international football tournament in and around London – with matches hosted in stadiums from Bromley to Bracknell, Sutton to Slough – CONIFA’s ambitions extend well beyond the final whistle. ‘We are still in the early stage of an adventure that will last for many years,’ says CONIFA President Per-Anders Blind. ‘CONIFA has grown from zero to representing 334 million people in five continents with four years; work done solely by heroes from all over the world who have contributed their volunteer skills and their spare time. When CONIFA reaches financial stability, we would like to start a humanitarian foundation and create different programmes and projects to help and support people in need. Football is a tool for a higher purpose.’

red line

NEVER MISS A STORY

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox by signing up to our free weekly newsletter!

red line

Related items

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox every Friday.

Subscribe to Geographical!

Adventure Canada

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Winchester

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • National Clean Air Day
    For National Clean Air Day, Geographical brings together stories about air pollution and the kind of solutions needed to tackle it ...
    The green dragon awakens
    China has achieved remarkable economic success following the principle of developing first and cleaning up later. But now the country with the world's...
    Hung out to dry
    Wetlands are vital storehouses of biodiversity and important bulwarks against the effects of climate change, while also providing livelihoods for mill...
    The true cost of meat
    As one of the world’s biggest methane emitters, the meat industry has a lot more to concern itself with than merely dietary issues ...
    Diabetes: The World at Risk
    Diabetes is often thought of as a ‘western’ problem, one linked to the developed world’s overindulgence in fatty foods and chronic lack of physi...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in PEOPLE...

Development

China’s ban on plastic imports will displace more than 110…

Cultures

If you think you can escape the ballyhoo of the…

Cultures

As the world’s top footballers battle it out in Russia,…

Cultures

The US meat industry is attempting to officially define ‘meat’…

Explorers

After Michael Pugh quit his job as a law firm partner…

Cultures

As the world prepares for the next FIFA tournament in…

Development

Road collisions remain a leading cause of deaths and injuries…

I’m a Geographer

Lynne Corner is director of VOICE – Valuing Our Intellectual Capital and…

Explorers

The biological wonders of Mozambique’s mountains have only recently been…

I’m a Geographer

Lloyd Figgins is founder of LFL Global Risk Mitigation consultancy,…

Development

From plastic-eating enzymes and oil-sucking polymers to ‘deep learning’ robots…

Explorers

Children on the summit of Aconcagua are a rare sight.…

Explorers

A pioneering expedition in 2019 will search for the lost…

Explorers

In this exclusive extract from his newest book, founder and…

Cultures

Growing demands for dairy products from an increasingly wealthy China…

Cultures

Diamonds are perhaps the least modest of all jewels. But,…

I’m a Geographer

Kristy Leissle is a scholar of the global cocoa and chocolate…

Explorers

The southwest corner of Western Australia is bursting with unique…

Cultures

Influencing international peace through street art

Explorers

Mountain biking through mountainous Lesotho, Dan Milner found stunning landscapes,…