Confederation of Independent Football Associations
Every four years the FIFA world cup draws millions of viewers from all around the world, and billions of dollars are dished out to make this happen. According to reports, in 2018, nearly half the world’s population tuned in to watch the World Cup, which costed Russia, the host nation, approximately £9 billion.
As you may know, not every country gets the opportunity to compete at the World Cup, and you also may know that several, smaller nations aren't even affiliated to FIFA.
But the passion for football is universal, so what happens to those who go unrepresented?
This is where CONIFA World Cup comes in. Organized by the Confederation of Independent Football Association, it is essentially an alternative world cup for unrecognized countries, isolated dependencies defacto nations, and cultural and ethnic minorities, remote and stateless nations, mostly everyone who cannot or do not qualify for a FIFA membership.
The non - profit associations itself is relatively new, and the tournament is still in its grassroots stages. It formed in 2013, and the first ever world cup was held in 2014. The participating teams are considered to be members, rather than countries, many of which, the average person, or even an avid football fan, would have probably never heard of before.
Take into consideration this year's tournament. Some of the participating teams, including Abkhazia, has been described as a partially recognized de facto nation at the Eastern coast of the Black Sea, Tamil Eelam.
Other members- including Kurdistan, Rohingya, and Raetia; remained unrecognized by international entities.
Due to the shaky status of participating teams, the CONIFA World Cup doesn’t receive as much funding or sponsors as other football tournaments. Passports and visas are hard to obtain, and players reportedly had to pay for their airfare to fly down to London.
So What Is CONIFA?
Despite CONIFA’s apolitical approach, to the competing members, it is more than just a football tournament. It is a chance for representation and legitimization, too, for a while at least, be free of the marginal status that they are forced to live in.
An opportunity for those who never really get the chance to play a game they love, and a chance for fans to support them. The tournament, although less glamorous than its more mainstream counterparts, subverts present power structures just by existing. As most regions that take part are either ignored by most international bodies or minority communities that mostly go ignored.
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