Para- and Proto-Sports Diplomacy of Contested Territories: CONIFA as a Platform for Football Diplomacy
Ramesh Ganohariti, PhD student and Ernst Dijxhoorn, Assistant Professor at Leiden University, researched the relation between international relations and sports, with sport and sports events increasingly being used for various diplomatic and political goals.
- Ramesh Ganohariti & Ernst Dijxhoorn
- 24 August 2020
In the summer of 2018, sixteen national teams participated in the Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA) World Football Cup that took place in London. Karpatalja took home the World Cup after beating Northern Cyprus 3-2 in the final. The previous World Cup winner, Abkhazia, was defeated early on in the tournament and ended in ninth place. The World Cup also brought teams representing Tibet, Cascadia, Matabeleland and Tamil Eelam to London. The strikers of Székely Land and Western Armenia may not be household names, the stadiums where the CONIFA World Football Cup took place were small and there was no prize money to be won. Yet the players were proud to compete and their compatriots happy to cheer them on. The participants in CONIFA’s international tournaments represent a wide variety of autonomous regions, de facto states, and diaspora communities. The teams represent territories that are linguistically, culturally or historically distinct from the sovereign state they are part of, and they mostly do not feel represented by the government of the state they de jure belong to.
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