Football’s coming home this summer, as the CONIFA 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup takes over London.
So what is CONIFA, I hear you cry…
The Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA) provides an outlet for countries, sub-national entities, stateless peoples and ethnic minorities to play international football.
Who’s the host?
Barawa Football Association is the host for the 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup.
I can’t find Barawa on the Tube map. Why are they the host?
The host is the CONIFA member that heads the organising committee for the tournament, which does not necessarily mean that it needs to be played in the host’s territory. Although the host is Barawa, the tournament will be held in London.
So let’s meet the teams…
Barawa – The Host with the Most
The team representing the Somali diaspora in England. It is named after Barawa, a port town in Somalia. Barawa has a population of around 32,800 inhabitants and the broader Barawa District has a total population of 57,652 residents. The town’s traditional inhabitants are the Tunni clan of the Somali people, as well as the Bravanese.
Abkhazia – The Returning Champions
Abkhazia is a partially-recognised state claimed by Georgia, on the eastern coast of the Black Sea, south of the Greater Caucasus mountains. They won the CONIFA World Football Cup in 2016.
Panjab – The Ones to Watch
The Panjab Football Team is a representative football team formed in 2014 in the UK, representing the Panjabi diaspora. For the first time in the history of the Panjabi based community, football will be played on an international platform. Most of the players come from the UK, but they want to grow across the world, in many highly Panjabi populated nations.
Padania – The Italian Stallions
The Padania representative football team is an unofficial football team, which represents eight northern regions of Italy called Padania. The Padania Football Association promotes football in the Pado Valley. Since 2013, they’ve helped people in the region to play in international tournaments and tell the world about their rich history and culture. Their most famous player is Enoch Balotelli, the brother of Mario. They won the 2017 CONIFA European Football Cup.
Northern Cyprus – The Futbol Frontrunners
The Northern Cyprus national football team represents Northern Cyprus, a de facto country. Northern Cyprus’ home stadium is Nicosia Atatürk Stadium in North Nicosia and their head coach is Fırat Canova. They came 2nd in the 2017 CONIFA European Football Cup.
Székely Land – Grudge Match
Székely Land is the team representing the Székelys (ethnic Hungarians) of Székely Land, Romania, established in 2014. They’ll be facing off against Northern Cyprus, who finished above them in the 2017 ConIFA European Football Cup, in Pot 2 early in the competition.
United Koreans of Japan – United They Stand
The United Korean Football Association in Japan (UKFAJ) was founded 2015. The United Koreans in Japan, sometimes also called Zainichi Koreans, are the biggest minority (approximately 900,000) in Japan today. Most Koreans in Japan came to Japan in the early 20th century and are now living in Japan – often in their 3rd or 4th generation – but are still considered foreigners.
Ellan Vannin – Mad Manx
The Isle of Man is a self-governing crown dependency, located in the Irish Sea between the Islands of Great Britain and Ireland. Formed in 2013, the Ellan Vannin (which is the Isle of Man in Manx) team was created by the newly-formed Manx International Football Alliance (MIFA), giving people of Manx heritage the chance to play international football.
Kárpátalja – Hungary for Victory!
Kárpátalja is the team representing the Hungarian minority in Carpathian Ruthenia (Zakarpattia Oblast, Ukraine). They competed at the 2017 ConIFA European Football Cup in 2017, finishing 5th overall.
Tamil Eelam – The Tremendous Tamils
The team, which consists of semi-professional and amateur players drawn from the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora community in Canada, United Kingdom and Switzerland. Tamileelam, home to Tamils, is an occupied state in Sri Lanka – it encompasses the northern and eastern regions of the island, with Trincomalee serving as the capital city. The three million Tamil people constitute a distinct nation and form a distinct social entity through their rich history, traditions, culture, and language.
Western Armenia – The Wild West (ern Armenia)
The Western Armenia national football team represents the Armenian indigenous people primarily from the region of Western Armenia, which is today lying in the territory of Turkey.
Tuvalu – The Pacific Powerhouse
The Tuvalu national football team is the international football team of Tuvalu; football played at club and national team level. Tuvalu is a group of nine tiny islands in the South Pacific, which won independence from the United Kingdom in 1978. Formerly known as the Ellice Islands, it’s located between Hawaii and Australia, south of Kiribati and north of Fiji. It comprises three reef islands and six true atolls. Tuvalu has a population of 10,640 and the total land area of the islands of Tuvalu is 26 square kilometres.
Tibet – The Wild Cards!
The Tibet national football team represent the cultural region of Tibet. Tibet is a region Northeast of the Himalaya – the highest region in the world, home to Mount Everest. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetans, who today also live in a huge diaspora in India, mainly around the city of Dharamsala. They qualified this year after being chosen at the Wild Card team.
Matabeleland – The Maiden Voyage
This is their first major tournament! The Matabeleland football team represents Matabeleland – the western part of Zimbabwe, divided into three provinces: Matabeleland North, Bulawayo and Matabeleland South. The region is named after its inhabitants, the Ndebele people. The team is run by Matabeleland Football Confederacy, which is an Independent Football Association promoting soccer. Its objectives are development through sport and soccer for human rights community development. Paddy Power launched a competition to design a kit the players will wear during the event.
Kabylie – The Conquering Kabylie
The Kabylie football team is the team representing the Kabylie people. Kabylie is located in North Africa, between the Tell Atlas mountains and the Mediterranean Sea – known as the African Switzerland. This is their first time in the CONIFA football tournaments.
Cascadia – The Soccer Supremoes
The Cascadia official football team represents the Cascadia region of the United States and Canada. The team is composed of players from the U.S states of Oregon, Washington and the Canadian province of British Columbia. Their mission is “…to allow Cascadia as a distinct cultural entity, isolated bioregion and growing society with common interests, to be represented at the international level in the sport we are all passionate about”. The purpose of the team is cultural and sport focused, not political.
Who should you support?
It’s the only football world cup worth watching this summer. You can see international football in London, for £10 (plus fees).