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CONIFA and Independent Soccer

Posted by John Hickey on



Certain international matches, such as San Marino x Moldova for example, are seen by the casual fan as very alternative. But what if I told you it can get much more obscure, beyond FIFA and beyond conventional geography?

CONIFA (Confederation of Independent Football Associations) organizes the world of soccer for unrecognized autonomous regions, indigenous populations, immigrant communities, isolated cultures, and more.

Here are a few examples that showcase who the CONIFA members are:

While Argentina plays the FIFA World Cup, the Armenian Argentine Community plays the CONIFA World Cup. Same goes for the Mapuche Football Team, representing the indigenous tribe in Chile.

There's also autonomous regions like Northern Cyprus or Kurdistan, islands such as Sardinia and Ellan Vannin and even regions who were once fully independent such as Two Sicilies and Tibet.

There are even 2 CONIFA members within the United States. There's Cascadia, a region that historically stretches from modern-day Oregon all the way into British Colombia, as well as Hawaii, who despite being a US state has a very unique culture and history and is actually CONIFA's only member in it's Oceania region.

CONIFA is still kept in the dark, it gets virtually no visibility outside of the populations its members represent, and sometimes even within them the teams aren't well known. However, the organization is growing. CONIFA organized its first World Cup in 2014 with 12 members but today it has 39 active members, is able to organize regional tournaments aside from its World Cup, has expanded into Futsal and has even sanctioned an independent league in Mexico. Local identities, histories and cultures, should all be celebrated and it's great CONIFA is able to do that through the beautiful game.


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