ConIFA World Cup 2018 Review
The ConIFA World Cup 2018 took place in the UK last summer, a 16-team tournament held for minorities, unrecognised states, stateless peoples and regions unaffiliated with FIFA. 3,000 people attended the final on the 9th June, which saw Kárpátalja beat Northern Cyprus on penalties after a goalless draw at Enfield Town FC’s Queen Elizabeth II Stadium. The winners were representing the Hungarian minority in Carpathian Ruthenia, a region located largely in western Ukraine but also encompassing parts of Poland and Slovakia. Kárpátalja were a late entrant to the tournament, replacing Felvidék, and lifted their first ConIFA trophy. Unfortunately the Ukraine Football Federation has since imposed draconian sanctions in the wake of their victory, with lifetime bans for Kárpátalja players with Ukrainian citizenship, whilst those players with Hungarian nationality are barred from entering Ukraine. Their goalkeeper Béla Fejér, who saved three penalties in the final’s shoot-out, won the Player of the Tournament award, while Panjab’s Kamaljit Singh took the Golden Boot with six goals.
Artsakh (also known as Nagorno-Karabakh), a de facto state in the Caucasus, is to host the 2019 European Football Cup. Eight teams will compete in the tournament, including holders Padania, winners of both previous tournaments (2015 and 2017), with the final to be held this month in Stepanakert, the capital. Kernow, representing Cornwall, were on standby to take part but despite several withdrawals, instead played their first international fixture on the 25th May, winning 5-0 against Barawa at Bodmin’s Priory Park. Meanwhile the Yorkshire International Football Association is hosting the Heritage Cup, an official ConIFA tournament, with the Chagos Islands and Parishes of Jersey competing with the home side.
James Hendicott has written a book based on the ‘other’ 2018 World Cup, ConIFA: Football for the Forgotten, published earlier this year; Forgotten Nations: The Incredible Stories of Football in the Shadows by Chris Deeley also focuses on ConIFA. Another author with an interest in football beyond the mainstream is Mat Guy, who contributed to the tournament programme together with Pat McGuinness. His most recent book is Minnows United: Adventures at the Fringes of the Beautiful Game (2017), and his next, Barcelona to Buckie Thistle, is due out later this year.
With thanks to Peter Lythe for kindly providing the images used in this post.