Officials for the Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA) were in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) at the start of the New Year to oversee the draw for this year’s World Cup. Sixteen teams, including North Cyprus, are taking part in the international football tournament being held in London between Thursday 31 May and Saturday 9 June.
The Turkish Cypriot national side has been drawn in Group 2. The full draw for the CONIFA 2018 World Cup Finals is as follows:
Group 1: Barawa, Ellan Vannin, Tamil Eelam, Cascade
Group 2: Abkhazia, Northern Cyprus, Felvidek, Tibet
Group 3: Padania, Székely Land, Kiribati, Matabeleland
Group 4: Panjab, United Koreans in Japan, Western Armenia, Kabylia
The teams, originating from five continents, will come together for a diverse extravaganza of football, culture and international understanding.
Group 1 will see Barawa, a region of Somalia, join Ellan Vannin (the Isle of Man), Tamil Eelam and Cascadia, a geographic area of the United States and Canada.
Group 2 is arguably the ‘group of death’, bringing together defending champions Abkhazia, and 2017 CONIFA European Football Cup runners-up Northern Cyprus, both partially-recognised states, along with Felvidek, a Hungarian-inhabited region of Slovakia, and Tibet.
Group 3 pits European champions Padania, a region of Italy, with Székely Land, a Hungarian part of Romania, Pacific nation Kiribati and Matabeleland, an area of Zimbabwe.
Finally, Group 4 brings together 2016 World Football Cup runners up Panjab, the United Koreans in Japan, Western Armenia and one of CONIFA’s newest members, Kabylia representing a region of north Africa.
“We are excited to be moving towards what promises to be our biggest tournament yet,’ said CONIFA President Per-Anders Blind. “The draw has provided some interesting and unusual encounters, and we are sure all games will entertain the large crowds that we are sure London is going to supply.”
‘Arrangements for London 2018 are progressing well,’ explained CONIFA General Secretary Sascha Düerkop. “Tickets will go on sale shortly, and we will soon be announcing our major tournament sponsors, stadiums and associated events. We can’t wait to bring the CONIFA story to the home of football.”
CONIFA is an international football federation for teams outside of FIFA, with members including states, de facto states, regions, minority groups and sports-isolated territories. CONIFA is a non-profit organisation registered in Sweden.
Main photo from 2016 CONIFA World Football Cup final between eventual winners Abkhazia and Panjab. Photo credit: Beslan Lagulaa/CONIFA