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

sub 2020 copy

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

geo line break v3

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...

I’m a Geographer

Danny Dorling is an author and professor of geography at Oxford…

Development

A newly discovered microbe could uncover how soil absorbs carbon…

Explorers

A single entry in a 118-year-old Arctic whaling logbook diverted…

Refugees

As the world grapples with a new pandemic, humanitarian organisations…

Development

Virtualising nature – an affront to the glory of the…

People

Boredom may be creeping into the lockdown experience. For the…

Refugees

A landmark ruling by the United Nations Human Rights Committee…

People

In today’s interconnected global society, new diseases can travel through…

Development

The best GIS dashboards record in near real-time the number…

Cultures

Geographical’s monthly print magazine has always sought to help its…

Cultures

As Iran and the US slog it out to dominate…

Development

For Bhavani Shankar, a trip to an Indian vegetable market revealed…

Explorers

Laura Waters paddles from ocean to source on the Noosa…

I’m a Geographer

Martin Hewitt is the founder of the Adaptive Grand Slam…

Development

As we come to terms with our hermetically-sealed situation during…

Explorers

At Geographical, we want to amplify the voices of the…

Cultures

Sohei Nishino uses photography, collage and cartography to pioneer unique…

Development

A rapid change in eating habits is deemed necessary to…

I’m a Geographer

Evelyn Habasa is the founder of Ride 4 a Woman,…