In brief

Alternative football World Cup winners accused of “sport separatism” by Ukrainian government

Ministers target team of Transcarpathia Hungarians

A Karpatalya player, at the final game against Northern Cyprus.
A Karpatalya player, at the final game against Northern Cyprus. Author: ConIFA
A few days ago we were explaining that London was hosting a football World Cup —alternative to FIFA’s— intended for stateless peoples and countries not being recognized by the main governing body of football. Despite its limited media impact, the victory of the Karpatalya team —which seeks to represent the Hungarian community of the Ukrainian region of Transcarpathia— has unleashed a political conflict in the Eastern European country. On a Facebook post, Ukrainian Sports minister Ihor Zhdanov has called on the Security Service of Ukraine to “to respond appropriately to such a frank act of sporting separatism,” while Foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin has asked for players to be questioned.

The Football Federation of Ukraine has also threatened to impose sanctions on players.

Meanwhile, Zhdanov has been sending letters to Sport ministries of other countries, asking them to boycott the FIFA World Cup, which is starting today in Russia.

In a statement, ConIFA —the body that organized the alternative World Cup— says it is “alarmed” by the stance taken by authorities in Kiev, and recalls that “players, administrators and officials of the Karpatalya football team have never expressed any separatist sentiments or ambitions. The team has a long-standing, demonstrable history of publicly embracing the region’s dual heritage.”

The crisis coincides in time with a raid by the Ukrainian police at the headquarters of a Romanian cultural center in Chernivtsi, in Northern Bukovina.