In brief

Football World Cup of unrecognized countries kicks off

16 teams including Abkhazia, Kabylia, Tamil Eelam and several Hungarian communities participate in ConIFA tournament

Abkhazian goalkeeper, during the previous World Cup.
Abkhazian goalkeeper, during the previous World Cup. Author: Beslan Lagulaa/ConIFA
Fifteen teams of stateless nations, minorities and regions, together with a team representing a UN member, are participating from 31 May in the men’s football World Cup that ConIFA organizes in London. It is the third time that this kind-of alternative FIFA holds a world championship, after the 2014 and 2016 editions in Lapland and Abkhazia. The matches can be followed live on internet.

Although it is obvious that the UK is not a stateless nation, the reason for the tournament being organized in London is that the Somali diaspora team in England is hosting it. The Somali squad —named after the Barawa port in Somalia— is scheduled to play matches in the group stage against Cascadia —a region straddling the US-Canada border—, the Isle of Man and Tamil Eelam. The other teams include current champions Abkhazia, the Hungarian communities of Transcarpathia (Ukraine), Felvidek (Slovakia) and Szeklerland (Romania), Northern Cyprus, Tibet, Matabeleland — the country of the Ndebele people in Zimbabwe—, Padania, Kabylia, the Panjabi diaspora in England, the Korean community in Japan, and Western Armenia —a team bringing together Armenian players with family background in present-day Turkey.

Along with all of them, the Tuvalu national team is also participating. This is a peculiar case, since Tuvalu is indeed a UN member, independent state. But its national federation is not affiliated with FIFA since it does not have a stadium with the conditions required by that world federation to host international matches.