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Apr 18, 2019, 12:08:00 PM

Irish author releases first book about CONIFA

In one of the surest signs yet of the growing popularity of CONIFA, the football tournament that welcomes in unrecognised regions and nations from around the world to play together, a new book has just been released by an Irish author to local acclaim.

While the third CONIFA World Cup was held in London last year, it did not gain huge amounts of traction. However, with tournaments held in fairly quick succession, it seems as if the number of people aware of this are growing month by month.

Although the next CONIFA World Cup will not be held until 2020 in Somaliland, the CONIFA European Cup 2019 is being staged this June in Artsakh.

As the author, James Hendicott, explained, he had started to fall out of love with some of the more commercial aspects of the wider football game. Many fans have stated that some parts feel too corporate and that the game is moving away from players coming from the city or town they represent.

When it comes to CONIFA, it is exactly the opposite, and this appears to be drawing a greater amount of interest not just for those regions who now have representation, but also for those who want to see a “purer” form of the game, according to Hendicott.

The team behind CONIFA is entirely voluntary, and the book, titled CONIFA: Football for the Forgotten, looks at how many people around the world wish that they could play together for their region, especially in disputed areas that find themselves stuck in decades of geopolitical standoffs with neighbouring countries that do not wish to relinquish control of borders.

One of the most interesting aspects, as covered in this book, is that CONIFA stays apolitical throughout, but will always support these nations and regions in their endeavours to represent themselves. The likes of Tibet and Northern Cyprus are well documented in the media for what is happening politically, but not for the people who live there and who were raised there, and how some of them just want to be able to play sports together as a team.

Hendicott admitted that he “came across CONIFA almost by accident”, but fell in love with the idea once he found out about it, and sought to discover more.

The author said that he was surprised about some of the top-level players involved, including those playing in the top division of Russian football, those who have played for Italian clubs, and players who have turned out for some national teams, including Hungary and Lithuania.

The CONIFA 2019 European Cup will be taking part this summer – Read the full overview of this years Conifa here!

Words: Man Ngo

Images: PA