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Football tournament for forgotten groups heading to London

The CONIFA games for regions and territories not recognised by FIFA gives minority peoples the chance to compete on an international stage

The Homeless World Cup, a life-changing football tournament that give participating players the chance to do so something they never dreamed was possible, comes to an end today. Trophies and medals will be handed out later in the Norwegian capital Oslo.

But another ground-breaking international tournament is on its way to London.

Organisers of the the World Cup of Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA) have announced that the third event will take place in the UK capital in May and June next year.

Operating under the slogan “freedom to play football,” CONIFA gives teams from cultural regions, unrecognised states and small, independent territories around the globe the chance to compete, since they are not able to do so through FIFA or UEFA.

Formed back in 2013, participating members include the Isle of Man, Quebec, Tibet and Monaco.

The tournament and its teams are not without controversy. Officials from Georgia have previously complained that team representing the region of Abkhazia, officially part of Georgia, were allowed to host last year’s event.

There are also teams representing Kurdistan, Northern Cyprus and Western Armenia – all areas subject to complex political disputes.

We are thrilled to be taking CONIFA to England – the spiritual home of football

Although CONIFA remains “strictly politically neutral,” CONIFA’s president Per-Anders Blind grew up as part of Scandinavia’s Sami minority group, commonly known as Laplanders, and has talked about his own identification with small, forgotten group.

“Our aim is to show that football can be a tool to bring our members to the global stage,” he has said. “We all have the same right to exist.”

The 16-team CONIFA event will be held between Thursday 31 May and Sunday 10 June.

“We are thrilled to be taking CONIFA to England – the spiritual home of football,” said CONIFA President Per-Anders Blind.

“We are confident 2018 will be our best tournament yet, and London will be the perfect host.”

For more details, go to CONIFA.

Photo: CONIFA

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