Conifa Cup - Round Up

At the beginning of June, a competition kicked off for the national sides with a difference. This was known as the Conifa World Cup.

For those of you who don't know about this, the Conifa World Cup is an international football tournament organised by CONIFA. This is arranged for football associations of states, minorities, stateless peoples and regions unaffiliated with FIFA. 

Unlike the World Cup, this is held every two years and this time it was the biggest yet and took place in London. The tournament started in 2014 in Lapland, while Paul Watson brother of comedian Mark Watson is the director of CONIFA and helped organise the 2018 Conifa World Cup. 

The idea behind this competition is to allow all sides to have a chance to play football. As part of the main core mission is to give everyone an opportunity to play. These values were showing throughout the tournament with teams getting great pride in taking part. 

Although these core values were called in to question by Ellan Vannin the team from the Isle of Man just off the coast of England. This happened when the side who were seen as favourites to win the competition lost to Barawa a South Somali side 2-0. 

They claimed that the competition went against its values saying in a statement "CONIFA, despite their promotion of morals and integrity, are absolutely no better than other football governing bodies and have turned into a dictatorship."

The reason for the upset is that Barawa registered a player late and the organisation had not let the other sides know this. The anger was maybe however not so much he was registered late but that the player named Mohamed Bettamer had played this season for Al-Ahli Benghazi in the African Champions League. This would be frowned upon as the competition is seen very much as largely an amateur tournament. 

Despite this, the tournament was still a huge success and am sure the winners Karpatalya do not mind too much about players registered late for other sides. 

The final itself was a great game that was won in the end 3-2 on penalties against Northern Cyprus and you can check out the highlights from the match below. 

Meanwhile, the two East Asian sides Tibet and United Koreans of Japan finished the competition 12th and 11th respectively as United Koreans of Japan beat Tibet in the 11/12th match playoff. A moment to remember in this match was when Tibet went ahead and their large support really did enjoy the moment.

With this being about the fans and giving everyone a voice I caught up with Welshman Matt Phillips (known on twitter as Matt the Jack) who attended many of the games and provided us with the photos shown in the slideshow. 

The first thing that we talked about was how friendly the atmosphere around the whole tournament was.

As Matt went on to say "The Matabeleland players were loving it at Bromley for the opening ceremony, after all the issues they had." The issues he talked about is that the state that is a region in Zimbabwe had to crowdfund just to afford to attend the competition. 

He went on to add "I was happy I saw them beat Tuvalu in their final group game." This was a match which they won 3-1, while also wearing maybe the best shirt of the whole competition. (see below)
Leading on from the fun of the competition we went on to talk about the standard of the games as after all this was a football tournament.

Matt explained "Padania looked a decent team, they have players from Serie C & D. While Barawa looked good in their first game. Their winger who plays for Chelmsford stood out. Northern Cyprus looked good too, I saw them knock the holders Azkhabia out. I didn't get to see Tibet unfortunately, While I really enjoyed the whole tournament.

 Afterwards, he went on to add, "The standard was mixed, some teams looked like they'd never seen a football before, but others looked more assured on the ball. I would definitely like to attend future tournaments. It was also good from a personal point of view, as I could 'tick off' seven different grounds over the space of 3 days". 

Ticking off football grounds is something that many fans are interested in and for those who like to travel the world and at the same time love the beautiful game I highly recommend downloading the football GroundHopping App.

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