The Confederation of Independent Football Associations or CONIFA was established in 2013 and held its first World Cup tournament in the summer of 2014 in Östersund, Sweden. The idea behind CONIFA was to gather all states, minorities, regions, and stateless people together to form an association of football teams not governed by FIFA.
The tournament is held every two years. Abkhazia hosted the 2016 Cup with the tournament held in Georgia. The 2018 Cup’s location was hosted by Barawa in London, England. Last year, the CONIFA 2020 Football Cup experienced some host and location alterations.
Somaliland was the original host, chosen in January 2019, for the 2020 CONIFA World Cup. However, in August 2019, they forfeited their host duties without naming a replacement.
CONIFA announced that the 2020 World Cup would take place in Skopje, North Macedonia. That made for a surprising decision since North Macedonia is not a member of CONIFA. This will be the first time a CONIFA member is not hosting the tournament.
Previous CONIFA Winners
Sápmi officially hosted the first CONIFA World Cup in Sweden. The tournament had 12 teams as participants who played in three groups. After the knockout stage, the County of Nice came out as the first winner of the Cup. At the same time, a festival celebrating the cultural diversity of the teams was held in the host city of Östersund.
Abkhazia hosted the 2016 CONIFA World Cup in Georgia. The CONIFA board came to that decision since the Hungarian government previously declined to provide visas for Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The host automatically qualified, and other teams had to go through the qualification process to get to the top 12 spots. That was the first time that the host country won the Cup.
The 2018 games were held in and around London with Barawa as the official host. In 2018, 16 teams qualified and were divided into four groups. After the group stage and the knockout stage, Kárpátalja won its first title.
2020 World Cup Teams
CONIFA decides on the number of berths, or positions, each continent can have in the tournament. Europe has four berths, Asia and Africa each have three, while North America, South America, and Oceania each have one berth. Also, there is a “wild card” position reserved for one additional team.
A total of 16 teams qualified for the 2020 CONIFA World Cup. That number includes the reserves in case one of the initially qualified teams cannot participate in the tournament. Additionally, each team is required to sign a contract and pay a membership fee. If one of the teams does not meet those conditions on time, the complete list might be subject to change.
At the moment, the list includes five teams from Europe, four teams from Africa, three teams from Asia, one team from North America, South America, and Oceania, as well as one global team i.e., the wild card.
What to Expect from CONIFA 2020?
Qualifications for the CONIFA World Cup finished in December 2019, with one spot saved for the 2019 CONIFA European Football Cup winners. The tournament will take place from May 30 to June 7, 2020.
All 16 teams are divided into four groups for the group stage:
Group A: Parishes of Jersey, Panjab, Kurdistan, Chagos Islands
Group B: Kárpátalja, Western Armenia, Tamil Eelam, Kabylia
Group C: Mapuche, Matabeleland, Kernow, Mariya
Group D: South Ossetia, Cascadia, United Koreans in Japan, Darfur
Western Sahara withdrew from the competition, and Kurdistan replaced them. Parishes of Jersey, Mapuche, Kernow, and Mariya, have not previously participated, and this will be their first appearance in the CONIFA World Cup.
It isn’t easy to make predictions about possible winners since many of these teams have a short history or have not even been mentioned in the football world before. However, football experts believe that the two British teams are safe bets. Although Parishes of Jersey and Kernow are not that famous, they are not to be underestimated, especially because they are English.
Many of these participants have long desired to participate in an international football competition. Recently, those hopes have grown as CONIFA was founded. This Cup is an excellent chance to bring together people who did not have a chance to play football professionally before. For them, this is an honorable experience to represent their region, nation or people.