Pers- Anders Blind, ex professional referee, is now the President of a global football association. And no, it is not FIFA. He is the President of an up and coming organisation called CONIFA – the Confederation of Independent Football Associations. An organisation which is helping football’s most marginalised realise dreams they never thought could be achieved.
CONIFA was formed in 2013 by Blind from the remaining members of the N.F Board (New Football Federations –Board) that previously governed non-FIFA international football. It was founded in order to provide a platform for those who went unseen. A stage where talents could be shown to the world. Since 2013, CONIFA has grown rapidly and now has 47 members from all over the world, each unique in their own way. Some of the members include: Northern Cyprus, Sapmi, Raetia, Tibet, Rohingya people, Barawa, Western Sahara and Quebec.
“We are more open, and give ethnicities and indigenous people from around the globe the opportunity to present themselves to the world for the first time” says Blind. He also has said that some of the groups associated with CONIFA have been “abused” or “bullied” by their government and therefore CONIFA allows them to regain their identity and restore a sense of pride through the beautiful game.
As well as being the President, Pers- Anders Blind has another connection to CONIFA. His own Sami people compete within CONIFA under the banner of FA Sapmi. The Sami people have suffered a lot of persecution and endured an ongoing battle with the Swedish Government over herding, hunting and fishing rights. Blind believes that being a part of CONIFA will be able to educate and unite his people. He also said “ People on the outside looking at CONIFA often have preconceptions about certain groups or ethnicities – but now we can show them the real thing, that these groups are not scary.
When talking about the direction of CONIFA and where the organization is going Blind said: “We will continue to grow, but are not chasing members as we were before. We need to take care of the ones that we currently have. We don’t have a headquarters, but we are trying to build up representative offices around the world. It’s important to have a presence on each continent. Even if you are global you need to act local”
The CONIFA 2018 World Football Cup
After the inaugural tournament took place is in Sweden in 2014, organisers are confident that his years CONIFA World Football Cup will their biggest and best tournament yet.
— CONIFA (@CONIFAOfficial) March 1, 2018
Barawa, who are a region of Somalia are the hosts for this years tournament. However, due to the fact that the Barawa football association is based in London, that is where the entire competition will take place. It will run from the 31st May 2018 to the 9th June 2018. Sixteen teams will compete in the tournament.
There will be many stadiums around London that will be hosting matches at this year’s tournament, however thus far only 3 venues have been announces:
- Hayes Lane – This ground is used by Bromley Football Club, Cray Wanderers and Crystal Palace Ladies. It has a capacity of around 5,000 people and will host a number of games throughout the tournament.
- Gander Green Lane– This is the home of Sutton United and has a capacity of 5,013 people. The Stadium has a FIFA 2-tar quality pitch, which is the highest rating that a 3G artificial pitch can achieve.
.@CONIFAOfficial and @suttonunited are pleased to announced that the Knights Community Stadium (Gander Green Lane) will host games during 2018 @paddypower World Football Cup in London. Tickets on sale now via @eventim_uk https://t.co/Oe4RpOTnSC
— CONIFA (@CONIFAOfficial) February 7, 2018
- Queen Elizabeth II Stadium – this is the smallest out of the three stadiums with a capacity of 2,500 people and it is based in Enfield, North West London.
Who are the 16 sides that have qualified?
- Ellan Vannin
- Northern Cyprus
- Székely Land
- Tamil Eelam
- United Koreans in Japan
- Western Armenia
What are the groups for the tournament?
Group 1: Barawa, Ellan Vannin, Tamil Eelam, Cascadia
Group 2: Abkhazia, Northern Cyprus, Felvidek, Tibet
Group 3: Padania, Székely Land, Kiribati, Matabeleland
Group 4: Panjab, United Koreans in Japan, Western Armenia, Kabylia