Tuvalu - Alopua Petoa

Photo credit: Vanuatu 2017 Pacific Mini Games

The Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA) wish to advise that on Monday Kiribati, represented by the Kiribati Islands Football Association (KIFA), formally withdrew from the 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup to be held in London this year.

Fellow Oceania member Tuvalu has been selected as Kiribati’s replacement, pursuant to CONIFA’s qualification regulations. It will be the Tuvalu national team’s second international tournament in six months, after a standout performance during the Vanuatu 2017 Pacific Mini Games in December.

‘While we are truly disappointed not to be competing at the 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup due to financial constraints, we wish our Pacific neighbours Tuvalu all the best in their journey to London,’ said KIFA President Ioteba Redfern, a member of the Kiribati parliament. ‘We thank CONIFA for all its work developing football around the globe, and look forward to maintaining our relationship with CONIFA to strengthen the world game in Oceania.’

‘We are delighted to be given this late call-up for CONIFA’s biggest ever tournament,’ said Tuvalu Islands Football Association (TIFA) President Soseala Tinilau. ‘Obviously our selection is tinged with saddest that our dear neighbours Kiribati are unable to compete, but we look forward to doing the region proud in London.’

Tuvalu replace Kiribati in Group C, where they will face European champions Padania, African representatives Matabeleland and European side Székely Land. Tickets issued for Kiribati games will be valid for the replacement fixtures.

Tuvalu is a group of nine islands in the South Pacific which gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1978. Tuvalu, formerly known as the Ellice Islands, is located midway between Hawaii and Australia, south of Kiribati and north of Fiji. Tuvalu has a population of 11,097. TIFA became an associate member of the Oceania Football Confederation in 2006, and joined CONIFA in November 2016. Like Kiribati, Tuvalu is severely threatened by climate change and rising sea levels – the average height of its land mass is just two metres above sea level.

CONIFA is an international football federation for teams outside of FIFA, with members including states, de facto states, regions, minority groups and sports-isolated territories. CONIFA is a non-profit organisation registered in Sweden.