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

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...

Cultures

A Canadian federal employment office will no longer hold the…

Development

A landmark report from the IPCC definitively states that the…

Development

Guadaloupe Marengo is head of the Human Rights Defenders Team…

Explorers

Despite being among the first Western explorers to uncover southwestern…

Explorers

As the world celebrates fifty years since mankind first set…

Explorers

In 1943, Geographical ventured away from our terrestrial boundaries to…

Development

Inspired by nature and motivated by a green conscience, a…

I’m a Geographer

Ana is the director and founder of the Eko-Svest Center…

Development

World Population Day focuses on the urgency and importance of…

People

World Refugee Day is a day to reflect and act…

Development

The five winners include schemes to eliminate plastic waste and…

Explorers

Nearly two decades after the mystery 1947 disappearance of a…

I’m a Geographer

Mikael Frödin is a Swedish-born professional fly fisherman turned environmental…

Development

Biochar was once heralded as a miracle product, one that…

Development

Why is China so keen on courting Islamic countries for…

I’m a Geographer

Dr Evan Killick is a senior lecturer in Anthropology and…

Cultures

Peruvian community gains official language recognition

Cultures

White people’s eating habits in the US have a higher…