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.’

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox by signing up to our weekly newsletter and get a free collection of eBooks!

geo line break v3

Related items

Subscribe to Geographical!

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Sign up for our weekly newsletter today and get a FREE eBook collection!

geo line break v3

University of Winchester

geo line break v3

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

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...

Explorers

The 3,000-kilometre Greater Patagonian Trail has no signposts, printed maps…

Development

Female-led artisanal mining associations are fighting back against a predominately…

Development

Once a constant threat across Bangladesh, arsenic poisoning has significantly reduced thanks to deeper wells

Development

Once dismissed as undesirable competitors, certain West African shrubs are now being recognised as…

Explorers

In January 2019, a Dutch marine charity, the Flotilla Foundation,…

Explorers

Charles Roberts reccounts the story of George Melville Boynton, perhaps the…

Cultures

Infertility affects thousands of women across Senegal, yet the subject…

Development

Still puzzled by China’s trillion dollar masterplan for the future…

Development

In this final instalment of our monthly series of reports…

Explorers

The Arabian Desert may not be everyone’s first choice when…

Cultures

Film-maker Jane Labous documents the taboos faced by Senegalese women…

Development

Gene editing technology means scientists are close to changing small-scale…

Explorers

Impassioned teacher and marine conservationist Libby Bowles looks back at…

I’m a Geographer

Simon Reeve is an author and TV presenter whose latest…

Cultures

Morocco reintroduces compulsory military service, one of many countries debating…

Development

In this penultimate instalment of our monthly series of reports…

Explorers

With the RGS-IBG’s annual Explore weekend on the horizon, the…

Development

The ‘golden triangle’ switches from growing opium crops to coffee

I’m a Geographer

Fearghal O’Nuallain is a geography teacher and explorer. His edited…