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Saturday, May 28, 2016


The 2016 ConIFA (Confederation of Independent Football Associations) World Football Cup finals kick off in the breakaway republic of Abkhazia on 29 May 2016, and will feature twelve teams in total in what will be the organisation's second global competition. ConIFA consists of non-FIFA states, nations, regions, peoples and countries which have not been recognised internationally, such as the host nation, which declared independence from Georgia in July 1992. 

This year's tournament was the first to feature a qualification process, though a number of teams had to pull out due to various reasons: the County of Nice, winners of the first competition - held in Sweden in 2014 - scratched because, according to ConIFA general secretary Sascha Düerkop, they "restructured their FA and wanted to take a break year."

Ellen Vannin, the Isle of Man's independent football association who lost on penalties to the County of Nice in the 2014 final, withdrew as - Düerkop again - the British "Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises against travelling to Abkhazia" (although a few British residents have gone to Abkhazia to watch the tournament). Both teams had originally qualified for the 2016 ConIFA World Cup after winning the European Football Cup and Niamh Challenge Cup tournaments respectively. 

The Aymara - based mainly in Chile - who would have been South America's first-ever representatives at the ConIFA World Cup finals, also had to forego their place at the tournament after funding promised by the Chilean government failed to materialise. The Romani, meanwhile, who hail from Italy, also had to give up the place offered to them due to passport problems with the Italian authorities; many of the team had their passport applications rejected for some unknown reason and so it was unfeasible for the team to travel to Abkhazia, which is situated on the north-eastern shores of the Black Sea.

Several of the teams taking part in the 2016 ConIFA World Football Cup had also previously been members of the now essentially-dormant NF Board; included in this number are Sápmi, who represent the Sámi people of northern Scandinavia, who won the inaugural VIVA World Cup in 2006; Padania, who won three VIVA World Cups in a row between 2008-10; Kurdistan - who won the last VIVA World Cup in 2012; Northern Cyprus, who were runners-up in their only VIVA World Cup appearance in 2012; and Raetia, from Switzerland, who finished in eighth place at the 2012 VIVA World Cup.

Raetia qualified thanks to winning the Benedikt Fontana Cup last September; they, Abkhazia, Padania, Sápmi, Kurdistan and Northern Cyprus will be joined by Panjab (based in the UK and representing the Punjabi community there), Székely Land (representing a region of modern-day Romania which has traditionally had a Hungarian majority), Western Armenia (comprised of the descendants of Armenians who were driven from their homeland in what is now modern-day Turkey), United Koreans of Japan (who represent the some 900000-strong Korean diaspora in Japan), Somaliland and the Chagos Islands.

The Chagossians, based in and around the town of Crawley in the south-east of England, are descended from those forcibly evicted from their Indian Ocean island-home and moved to Mauritius and the Seychelles by the British government in the 1960s and 1970s to make way for an American air-base; a number of them were eventually able to move to the UK. The Chagossians are currently awaiting a decision from the UK government - expected to be made public on 29 December - as to whether an agreement to lease the island of Diego Garcia to the US government for a further 20 years will take effect, or whether they can then return home.

The list of participating teams is quite an eclectic one. It is certainly not the gathering of sportsmen from "rebel republics and separatist regions" as was claimed it would be in an article published in The Guardian in July last year, more a coming together of football lovers who just want to play football against foreign opposition, but are unable to due to many and varied reasons.

Please find below the fixture-list for the 2016 ConIFA World Football Cup; all games will be held at the Dinamo Stadium in Abkhazia's capital, Sukhumi, and at the Daru Akhvlediani Stadium in Gagra. All kick-off times are shown in CET. The opening ceremony will take place in Sukhumi on 28/05/16.

GROUP A (all games in Sukhumi)


29/05/16 18:00 Abhkazia : Chagos Islands
30/05/16 18:00 Chagos Islands : Western Armenia
31/05/16 18:00 Abhkazia : Western Armenia 

GROUP B (all games in Sukhumi)


29/05/16 13:00 Kurdistan : Székely Land
30/05/16 15:00 United Koreans of Japan : Székely Land
31/05/16 13:00 Kurdistan : United Koreans of Japan

GROUP C (all games in Gagra)


29/05/16 09:00 Padania : Northern Cyprus
30/05/16 09:00 Raetia : Padania
31/05/16 09:00 Northern Cyprus : Raetia

GROUP D (all games in Gagra)


29/05/16 13:00 Sápmi : Somaliland
30/05/16 13:00 Sápmi : Panjab
31/05/16 13:00 Somaliland : Panjab

QUARTER-FINALS (all games in Sukhumi)

01/06/16 13:00 2nd Gp B : 1st Gp C (QF1)
01/06/16 18:00 1st Gp A : 2nd Gp D (QF2)
02/06/16 13:00 1st Gp B : 2nd Gp C (QF3)
02/06/16 18:00 2nd Gp A : 1st Gp D (QF4)



02/06/16 09:00 3rd Gp A : 3rd Gp D (PO1) (Gagra)
02/06/16 13:00 3rd Gp B : 3rd Gp C (PO2) (Gagra)
03/06/16 13:00 Loser QF1 : Loser QF2 (PO3) (Sukhumi)
03/06/16 18:00 Loser QF3 : Loser QF4 (PO4) (Sukhumi)



03/06/16 09:00 Loser PO1 : Loser PO2 (Gagra)

03/06/16 11:00 Winner PO1 : Winner PO2 (Gagra)

04/06/16 09:00 Loser PO3 : Loser PO4 (Gagra)
04/06/16 13:00 Winner PO3 : Winner PO4 (Gagra)


04/06/16 11:00 Winner QF1 : Winner QF2 (SF1) (Sukhumi)
04/06/16 18:00 Winner QF3 : Winner QF4 (SF2) (Sukhumi)


05/06/16 13:00 Loser SF1 : Loser SF2 (Sukhumi)


05/06/16 18:00 Winner SF1 : Winner SF2 (Sukhumi)

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Many thanks to Sascha Düerkop, ConIFA general secretary for his assistance and permission to publish the above fixture-list, which is obtainable via the #Abkhazia2016 website:

Information was obtained from various sources, including The Guardian, Wikipedia, Facebook and the ConIFA website. Any and all errors are author's own, and shall be rectified upon receiving notification of same.