Magazine article New Internationalist

The Alternative World Cup

Magazine article New Internationalist

The Alternative World Cup

Article excerpt

As the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers come to an end, teams like Tibet, Matabeleland and Northern Cyprus will be getting ready to play each other next year. Except, they won't be playing in the official World Cup in Russia. Instead, the 16 squads denied access to 'official' international football will compete in an alternative tournament between unrecognized nations and minorities in London in May 2018.

'We want to allow people to compete for identities they feel represented by,' says Paul Watson, from competition organizers the Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA). 'Through football, you're bringing these teams to people who wouldn't normally get involved.'

As well as seeking sporting glory, many teams have a political axe to grind. United Koreans in Japan - a team of South and North Koreans playing together - will demonstrate that coexistence is possible in the Korean peninsula; the team from the selfgoverning region of Abkhazia will express their territory's desire for independence from Georgia. …

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