Feb 6, 2009, 5:06 AM
Years of trying without success for Gambia in a World Cup may be soon over. Brazil 2014 is out of sight and there are little or no hopes of making it to Russia but the good news is, there is ConIFA.
ConIFA is a global umbrella organization for all the football teams outside FIFA. There are more than 5, 500 ethnicities around the world and hundreds of sportingly isolated regions that do not have an international arena to play international football.
ConIFA welcome all registered football associations and teams to play. They organize the official World Championship for teams outside FIFA, Continental Championships, International tournament and Cups combined with Cultural Events and Youth Exchanges.
The Football World outside FIFA is fast growing and millions of dedicated fans follow the scene.
ConIFA contributes to the enhancement of global relations and international understanding.
In an online interview with the ConIFA general secretary Sascha Duerkop from his base in Germany, the football fanatic said: “Many people do not know about this other side of football.”
Sure he is right. But countries like Kurdistan have millions of people following the event and we are working on building up more all over the world.”
ConIFA aims to build bridges between people, nations, minorities and isolated regions all over the world through friendship, culture and the joy of playing football.
ConIFA works for the development of affiliated members and is committed to fair play and the eradication of racism.
According to Marijn Sillis, a Belgian journalist and also the ‘European Communication Manager’ for ConIFA, its introduction in The Gambia is essential to its people as a whole.
“There are some tribes, like the Aku, who could be possible members for ConIFA in Gambia. We also want to catch more African countries, and support them to establish their own teams, and give them the opportunity to play on the international stage,” he said.
ConIFA’s main activities include the following: Promote affiliated members and its people and contribute to their growth; ConIFA World Championship (the official World Championship for teams outside FIFA); ConIFA Continental Championships in six continents; ConIFA International tournaments and Cups; ConIFA Friendly games; ConIFA Cultural events; ConIFA Youth exchanges.
Twelve teams have qualified for this year’s ConIFA’s World Cup. The host city Östersund, and he host Sapmi people and the whole world is looking forward to see the following teams on the global stage in the first week of June 2014: Abkhazia, Aramean Suryoye, Kurdistan Tamil Eelam, Zanzibar, Darfur United, Ellan Vannin, Quebec, Nagorno Karabakh, Padania, Sapmi, and Occitania.
The ConIFA World Football Cup is an international football tournament organised by ConIFA, an umbrella association for states, minorities, stateless peoples and regions unaffiliated with FIFA, planned to be held every two years.
Asked if the world football governing body (FIFA) is aware of ConIFA, the Secretary General answered: “Absolutely yes! We are in talks with FIFA and they approved what we do. It is like a social project in football. We give those people unknown and under-represented a chance to represent themselves.”
The Gambia as a whole is in FIFA. But cultural regions, minorities or isolated territories (like island) could join.