Conifa – a Place for the Misplaced

There are people and nations in the world who had been pushed to the margins of global society due to various reasons, but mainly because they have chosen their own way of life, which is quite different from the one imposed on them by the governments or international organizations.

Regardless of the reasons, these small but proud nations are united by their unconditional love for football, the king of all sports. Despite being considered as misplaced or unacknowledged, these people surely don’t lack managerial skills which helped them create the unaffiliated sports organizations and then jointly form the Confederation of Independent Football Associations (Conifa).

Conifa is the best illustration of how football could serve as the unifying factor as well as an excellent proof of the fact that sports would always remain above politics and societal rules.

The history of Conifa

Conifa is a rather young non-profit football organization which was founded less than six years ago, in June 2013. Its primary objective implies overseeing all competitions that take place between the representatives of football associations that are not operating under the auspices of FIFA. This confederation unites sub-national entities, for instance, autonomous regions within a given country (or the ones that seek such an autonomy), unrecognized states, regional minorities, and stateless nations.

As of now, Conifa has 54 members from all parts of the world. The most notable European members are the County of Nice, Greenland, Monaco, Karpatalja, and Abkhazia. Recently, they have been joined by the teams from Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.

Iraqi Kurdistan and Tibet are among the most interesting teams from Asia while Quebec represents the Americas.

The headquarters of Conifa is located in the city of Lulea, in the northernmost country of Sweden. Per-Anders Blind, a former referee and the reindeer herder, occupies the post of the president at Conifa. The first ever Football World Cup under the aegis of the Confederation also took place in Sweden, in the city of Ostersund, in June 2014, exactly one year after the establishment of Conifa.

Since that time, the organization has greatly enhanced its activities, and now, apart from the World Cup, it is responsible for the execution of such sporting events as the European Football Cup, various continental championships, international tournaments as well as friendly games, youth exchanges, and numerous cultural initiatives.

The most recent competition was the 2018 Conifa World Football Cup which took place in London and the Greater London area (Sutton, Bromley, Enfield, and other stadiums), though the Barawa Football Association was named as the official host of the event. The Karpatalja football team, which is formed out of the representatives of the Hungarian minority residing in the Zakarpattia region of Ukraine, was crowned as the champions. The final was held at the Queen Elizabeth II Stadium. The Karpataljans won on penalties against the national team of Northern Cyprus. The next competition will be the Conifa European Football Cup which will take place in the unrecognized Republic of Artsakh.

Further details about the 2019 Conifa European Football Cup

The competition will be held in the period from June 1 till June 9, in three cities (Martakert, Askeran, and Stepanakert) of Artsakh, formerly known as the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, the disputed territory in the region of South Caucasus. Twelve teams from different parts of Europe will participate in the Cup:

● Artsakh;
● County of Nice;
● Chameria;
● Abkhazia;
● Donetsk People’s Republic;
● Luhanks People’s Republic;
● Padania;
● Sampi,
● Sardinia;
● Szekely Land;
● Western Armenia;
● South Ossetia.

The team of Kernow will be held in the reserve, in case some of the teams above decide to drop out of the competition. The 2019 Conifa Europan Football Cup will consist of a group stage and a knockout stage. There will be four groups (A to D) with two teams from each group to qualify for the next stage.

In one of his recent interviews, Per-Anders Blind said that he was amazed by the hospitality and the organizational skills displayed by the Football Association of Artsakh and expressed his full confidence in the success of the upcoming sporting event. He also noted that the Republic of Artsakh became the member of Conifa at the day of its inception; therefore, the Republic has fully deserved the right to host the European Cup.

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