Watch live #WFC2018 action with mycujoo

The Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA) is pleased to announce mycujoo as an official streaming partner of the 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup, which kicks off in London this week.

mycujoo’s CONIFA Hub will show live streams of all group matches (except for those played by Northern Cyprus – which will be broadcast by Euro Genc TV), the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final. The opening match, semi-finals and final are also being broadcast online by tournament sponsor Paddy Power in the United Kingdom and Ireland via their social media channels, and those matches will be geo-blocked on mycujoo. Paddy Power will be producing the opening match, semi-finals and final; FCVideo are producing all other group stage matches.

“We see strong vision alignment between CONIFA and mycujoo,” said CONIFA President Per-Anders Blind. “We both want football to be available for all.

“mycujoo contacted us early in our preparations for the 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup, and have shown great enthusiasm in becoming an official tournament partner,” he continued. “We are delighted that mycujoo’s cutting-edge streaming technology will make CONIFA’s biggest tournament available to a global audience.”

João Presa, COO and founder of mycujoo, welcomed the announcement.

“CONIFA, like mycujoo, is an innovative organisation that wants to use sport for good,” he said. “When the opportunity came to partner with the ‘alternative world cup’ – the 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup – we couldn’t wait to get involved.

“We are looking forward to CONIFA fans all-around the world – from Tuvalu to Tokyo, Bulawayo to Barawa – being introduced to mycujoo’s next-generation streaming technology. This is what mycujoo is about – bringing the digitalisation of football to the uncharted territories of the game.”

ABOUT MYCUJOO

mycujoo is a football streaming platform designed for the games and players you don’t see on television. We help federations, clubs and competitions at all levels to broadcast their football; building stronger relationships between players and fans. We boost the football players’ experience by showcasing them and we give fans all over the world access to live and on-demand football, beach soccer and futsal content from their favourite teams.

The name “mycujoo” was inspired by “cuju” ( 蹴鞠 ) – an ancient Chinese sport recognised by FIFA as one of the earliest forms of football.

Using our own streaming technology, mycujoo offers a free-to-use service that gives viewers unparalleled access to their team. We allow clubs and competitions to effortlessly reach new audiences by streaming matches and content. Simple, legal and effective.

mycujoo is actively streaming content from more than 65 countries across 6 continents. More than 2,250 clubs and teams have been streamed on mycujoo since the beginning of the platform. We work directly with hundreds of partners – federations, leagues, clubs. In 2017 alone, mycujoo streamed more than 4,200 football matches live for a viewership of more than 35 million video views over the year. In 2018, mycujoo is planning to stream more than 14,000 matches worldwide.

CONIFA’s 2018 World Football Cup set for Thursday kick-off in London

With only a few days to go until Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA)’s 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup, 16 teams representing 334 million people across five continents are making final preparations for a unique tournament set to take place in London from Thursday 31 May to Saturday 9 June.

“We are excited to be able to host our largest ever tournament in Greater London, not only the historic home of the beautiful game but a vibrant and international city that welcomes people from all corners of the globe,” said CONIFA President, Per-Anders Blind. “With some teams based in the United Kingdom, some having large diaspora communities here and plenty of neutral favourites, we are confident of support from the London community.”

CONIFA is the international football confederation for teams not part of FIFA. Its members include states, partially-recognised states, regions, minority groups and sports-isolated territories. CONIFA is a strictly politically neutral charity, and is run by volunteers. The 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup is CONIFA’s biggest tournament yet, bringing together 16 teams to battle it out over 48 matches across 10 stadiums.

“The teams have worked tirelessly to get here,” said CONIFA General Secretary Sascha Düerkop. “Tuvalu are flying 15,000 kilometres from Funafuti to London, while Matabeleland have used crowd-funding to finance their participation at the 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup.”

“After months and months of planning, it is hard to believe the tournament is about to kick-off,” Düerkop continued. “We are so grateful to everyone that has turned an ambitious idea into an amazing reality: all our tournament sponsors, including naming rights partner Paddy Power; our army of volunteers; wonderful host clubs and stadiums; committed teams who have made it to London; and all the fans who will come to watch teams putting their hearts and souls into playing football on the international stage in such a wonderful location. As with all big sporting events, the fans make it, and we are ready to welcome everyone for a tournament of great football and an unbeatable atmosphere.”

Abkhazia, a partially-recognised territory claimed by Georgia, will be looking to defend their CONIFA World Football Cup title after winning the last edition in spectacular scenes on home-soil in 2016. 2017 European Football Cup Padania (a region of Italy), Ellan Vannin (Isle of Man) and Northern Cyprus are among the other favourites. TibetMatabelelandKabilyaCascadia and Tuvalu are among the teams making their CONIFA debut. Barawa, a region of southern Somalia, are the official tournament hosts; the Barawa FA is a diaspora group based in London.

Tickets for the 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup are available via conifa.org/tickets.

Away Day Neutrals joins the CONIFA family as an official #WFC2018 partner

The Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA) is pleased to announce Away Day Neutrals as an official partner of the 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup.

They told us: “Away Day Neutrals believes football is about more than just the match. After a couple of trips to watch games on the continent we found that the footballing culture of the countries we visited and the friendships we made through the football were just as important as the match. We realised that other people were interested in this too so we set up the site to document our travels. With the costs of watching the EPL spiraling out of control we wanted to show people that trips like ours can be done on a budget – we endeavour to get the flights, tickets and hotel for under £150.

“We have had much more interest in the site than we expected, particularly from the countries where we visit, as the locals are very interested to find out how two “away day neutrals” view their team and their city. We would love others who have done similar trips to contribute trip reports to the site and we already have a few people who have agreed to help out for next season. We’ve also been contacted by a number of people asking for our help to arrange their trips away and hopefully, once August ticks round again, we’ll be in a position to do this in some shape or form.

“When we found out about CONIFA and the 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup we loved the idea of using football to bring cultures together and thought it was a great match to what we have been doing. We therefore decided to support the event as best we could. We’ve added a dedicated section to the website and are currently preparing short previews of each of the teams competing, adding one or two every few days up until the tournament kicks off. Once it kicks off we will be doing full match reports of the games we attend and would love to post the thoughts of others who have been to the matches. If anyone would like to contribute future trip reports, their thoughts on CONIFA or just want more info on trips, we would love for them to email us at admin@awaydayneutrals.com.”

I’m Writing A Book About CONIFA in 2018. Here’s Why.

It was only six months ago I first heard of CONIFA, indirectly, through a beautiful book on fringe soccer called ‘Up Pohnpei’. Paul Watson, the author, is the Global Commercial Director of CONIFA, a link which seems extremely fitting given the difficulties he faced in trying to guide the tiny South Pacific island of Pohnpei back to the international stage. Something he did, essentially, just for the hell of it.

About two months later, I became an individual CONIFA member, and sent off what felt like an outlandishly optimistic request to have a chat with Per-Anders Blind about what was going on in the build-up to the 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup tournament in London. As a journalist, Blind’s back story stood out by a mile as something of quirky yet universal interest.

As you might know, Per-Anders is the President of CONIFA, yet incredibly open in giving time to the likes of me. I first spoke to him on a shaky Skype line, with me sat in the early-Spring sunshine outside Dublin Castle on a cheeky morning break from my day job, and Per-Anders avoiding the post-winter melt from the warmth of his study in Northern Sweden. He started by describing a little about how his team, Sapmi – who didn’t qualify for this 2018 World Football cup tournament – had come into being.

As he unveiled another footballing world to me, Per-Anders laid out how the early CONIFA Executive had put his mind, heart and soul into creating a tournament for the unrepresented, facing financial uncertainty, last-minute visa scares, difficulties securing host locations for tournaments; and remaining apolitical throughout. It sounded hard work, but also like the best – if unpredictable – fun imaginable. I am quite sure he was not aware of the impact CONIFA’s story was beginning to have on me, and what it would lead to in my life.

The ethos stood out, as did the passion and unparalleled hard work. I asked him what prompted it all; he told me, quite simply, that after refereeing an earlier tournament for non-FIFA nations, he’d been asked to do it. So he did. That same organisation now hosts teams that represent tens of millions of people.

I’ve always loved the unheralded pastures of football. I’m a lifelong Aston Villa fan and I’ve often wondered if some of my growing disillusionment with the money men and the powerhouses of football in recent years has come in part from my club’s relative failings. So I’ve been flitting towards alternative routes to channel my love for the beautiful game, and enjoy even more of less conventional football: periods of mild fixation with St Pauli and Altona ‘93, FC United of Manchester and Sassuolo. Back home in Ireland, it’s been about trips to Crumlin United and Tralee Dynamos as well as Cork City and Shamrock Rovers.

The best games I’ve ever been to have been played on bobbling pitches by people taking time out from their day jobs. I still regularly, randomly, bring up a Leinster Senior League (Irish third tier) game I was lucky enough to attend on the final day of the 2015/2016 season between Tolka Rovers and Glebe North. This is why: Glebe North – who’d won the reverse fixture an astonishing 9-0 earlier in the season – nevertheless needed a win from the final game away at their only relegation rivals to stay up. With Glebe having led 3-1 right into the closing minutes, Tolka smashed in two goals – the latter a 60-yard hit and hope right on full time – to stay up and condemn Glebe.

There were no more than 50 spectators in the stand, but it was emotionally shattering. In all likelihood, not one player on that pitch will be remembered outside of his own club in 50 years. Hell, Tolka went down the following year anyway (they’ve just been relegated again, actually). But in terms of pure, unbridled passion, I’ve never seen a better game. Every man on that pitch would have given anything for their club that day.

Passion for a shirt – true representation – is what football is really all about. Passion in playing your heart out, and representing something that really matters to you, whether it’s in front of 50 or 50,000.

That same almost-tangible passion is what has made me decide to dedicate my summer to CONIFA; in attending, and then writing in detail about, events during the World Football Cup in London. I felt that passion and drive for creating something the moment I connected with Per-Anders, and CONIFA. It oozes from every pore.

Since that initial chat with the current CONIFA President, I’ve spoken to most of the rest of the organisers of the 2018 tournament. I’ve also talked to various team managers about their preparations, the challenges they face, and the incredible stories that have led them – in some cases through unimaginably difficult journeys – to play in London.

I’ve heard about ample hopes and, of course, some fears; it’s a big feat for an army of volunteers to pull off such a big tournament in such a big city. I’ve heard from a lot of people who are doing a lot, for a little, just because they want to; just because they care.

I’ll be at every game I can make between May 31 and June 9 – my best guess is around 15 out of the 48 scheduled matches – and talking to everyone I can about CONIFA, and what it all means, to get it all down on paper. I already know enough to know the first international football tournament of the summer will live up to the hype!

James’ book on the CONIFA World Football Cup 2018, CONIFA: Football for the Forgotten is now available to pre-order via his website, including perks and discounts for ordering up front.

He’d love to talk to anyone and everyone connected with the tournament and CONIFA’s teams, and can be contacted here.

Tuvalu Going from Ocean to Ocean to Compete in WFC 2018

Written by: Alun Macer-Wright
Twitter: @alunmw221

With over 15,000km separating London and Funafuti, the capital of Tuvalu, the Pacific Island nation have by far the longest distance to travel to this summer’s CONIFA World Football Cup.

Tuvalu are the only representative team of a United Nations member state competing in London this summer. Tuvaluans are spread out across a combination of reef islands and atolls, and numbered a little over 10,000 at the 2012 census. To put in perspective, that is 25 times fewer people than the London borough of Haringey, where they play their first match.

The Polynesians come to England with high hopes. Soseala Tinilau, President of the Tuvalu Islands Football Association said: “My hope is for Tuvalu to compete at a highest level and be able to make it to the final four. But who knows, anything can happen in football.”

Tuvalu only stepped in to take their place in the London line-up in March, when fellow Pacific Islanders Kiribati were forced to pull out, citing financial difficulties.

The nation is an associate member of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) but have had their hopes of joining FIFA dashed in recent years. They regularly compete against other Pacific teams, and recorded impressive 2-1 and 4-3 victories against New Caledonia and Tonga respectively, at the 2017 Pacific Mini Games.

Tinilau recognised the challenges that the long-distance travel had posed, but spoke of the nation coming together to help the team. “It is a huge challenge especially when you are far away from London. We have worked so hard to do fundraising to purchase our airfares with great assistance from the Government as well as local businesses, communities, sports organizations and individuals,” he said.

Tuvalu spent most of the last century as a British colony, under the guise of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, only gaining its independence in 1976. It is a member of the Commonwealth, so the CONIFA appearance will cap an exciting few months in sport, after the nation sent seven athletes to the slightly less far-flung Gold Coast for this year’s Commonwealth Games.

In terms of players for fans to watch out for, Tinilau said: “Our star men consist of Alopua Petoa (Tuvalu top scorer in international matches), Okilani Tinilau and Matti Hoffren Uaelesi.”

The Tuvaluans will come into this summer’s games with one warm-up fixture under their belts, against a Suva club team. Tinilau said this would test his squad’s preparation.

With senior major tournament appearances for teams from Oceania at a premium, opportunities such as this for offer a unique chance to develop football in the region. Tuvalu will be hoping to grab it with both hands.

CONIFA announce Bateman’s (Sports) Ltd as official retail partner of the 2018 World Football Cup

The Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA) is pleased to announce Bateman’s (Sports) Ltd as the official retail partner of the 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup.

Bateman’s, a family-run business based in Stroud, has been operating since 1893. ‘We are delighted to be partnering with such an established retailer to make high-quality CONIFA mechandise available for fans during the 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup,” said CONIFA President Per-Anders Blind.

2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup merchandise is on sale now. Polo shirts featuring the logo of each participating team, hats, beanies, mugs and key-rings are among the items available for purchase.

Newcomers Matabeleland Out to Prove They Belong at WFC 2018

Written by: Alun Macer-Wright
Twitter: @alunmw221

Matabeleland are another team making their debut in major competition at this summer’s CONIFA World Football Cup in London. Indeed, their opening match against Padania will be their first international game.

The Zimbabwean region has a troubled past, with an estimated 20,000 Ndebele people massacred there by the country’s army in 1983-84. Recent research has shown that the massacre was almost certainly orchestrated by recently-ousted Prime Minister Robert Mugabe.

Matabeleland consists mostly of a savanna landscape, and has an estimated population of just over 2 million in a land area similar to the size of England.

The region has often been a flashpoint for conflict, with the First and Second Matabele Wars fought against British rule at the turn of the 20th century. The 1970s brought the tumultuous era of white-minority Rhodesian rule, before Mugabe’s tenure brought its own problems for the Ndebele.

The Ingqungqulu, as they are known, are managed by a particularly well-travelled Englishman. Justin Walley spent several years working in various capacities at Latvian side Riga United, helping to build a platform which has seen 6 players from the club go on to represent the national side.

After missing out on a Pacific Islands coaching job in “devastating” circumstances, Walley considered leaving coaching, before taking on his role with Matabeleland, which he was drawn to by a sense of adventure and a chance to “impact people’s lives in a positive way”.

A common theme for CONIFA members is an underlying struggle to resource their activities, which Walley described as being a “nightmare” and “the most full-on thing I have ever been involved in”. He has been crowdfunding through various avenues to try and get the team to London, working with “a tiny budget of perhaps $25,000 for everything”.

Despite the hurdles standing in the way, Walley remains positive about the team’s “once in a lifetime” chance to compete at the World Football Cup. “I am privileged to be part of this but it is impossible for me to know how proud these lads must feel about their involvement,” he said.

Walley stressed the importance of the tournament creating a legacy for football in the region. “There will be an African cup next year and another world football cup to come in two years. I hope for many of the team it will be the first of many amazing football adventures that I am sure will enrich their lives,” he said.

Matabeleland will wear a kit for which the design was chosen by a competition run by the tournament’s title sponsor, Paddy Power. Although they will be outsiders for the title, simply making it to London will feel like a victory for the team.

Uhlsport to provide official ball of the 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup

The Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA) is pleased to announce that German sporting manufacturer uhlsport will provide the official match ball for the 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup.

Tournament-branded uhlsport balls will be used in all 48 matches of the 31 May – 9 June tournament in London. The uhlsport Golden Glove will also be awarded to the best goalkeeper of the tournament, who will receive a prize pack.

“uhlsport is a historic football company and CONIFA is proud to be partnering with such an iconic brand,” said CONIFA President Per-Anders Blind. “Like CONIFA, uhlsport has a presence around the world. We can’t wait to see the match ball kicked for the first time at the opening matches on Thursday 31 May,”

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. Tickets for the 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup are now on sale.

Cascadia Ready to Roll as First North American Competitor in WFC History

Written by: Alun Macer-Wright
Twitter: @alunmw221

Cascadia’s opening match against Ellan Vannin at the CONIFA World Football Cup on 31 May willm ark a watershed moment in CONIFA history, as the first ever representatives from the Americas begin their maiden campaign.

Cascadia is a bioregion spanning the American states of Oregon and Washington, and the Canadian province of British Columbia.

Cascadia Association Football Federation President Aaron Johnsen said: “We are thrilled to make our debut. Our hope is to lead by example and pave the way for other regions of North America to become members of CONIFA.”

Not only will the game in Sutton at the end of May be Cascadia’s first game in CONIFA competition, it will also be the side’s first official international game.

Cascadia are still expected to compete at a high level at the World Football Cup, with players of significant calibre. “Players for fans to watch will be former MLS standout James Riley as well as Josh Doughty the former Manchester United prodigy,” Johnsen said.

Riley is set to captain the team, off the back of a career which included 235 MLS appearances for the journeyman defender. Jordan Wilson, of second-tier Danish side Nykobing, will also be pulling on the Cascadia jersey.

The region’s MLS sides, Portland Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders, are renowned for the passion of their fans, who often unfurl eye-catching tifo displays. Matches between the sides can be particularly spectacular.

Supporters of each of these teams have set aside their differences to get behind the Cascadia project, and fulfil the team’s stated mission of promoting the area’s ‘distinct cultural identity’. The federation is clear however that its aims are focused on culture and sport and are not political.

The idea for a representative football team for the region goes back many years and Cascadia have been CONIFA members since 2013, so their first match will bring a long wait for a taste of international football to an end.

They will be coached by James Nichols, an experienced figure in non-league football in the north of England. Nichols holds the UEFA B license, and has been involved with teams such as Kendal Town, Northwich Victoria and Penrith, as well as the England futsal setup.

Nichols told the US football publication Prost Amerika: “I am delighted to be appointed as head coach of Cascadia and feel this is a fantastic opportunity for the region to make an impact on the world stage.”

Cascadia mean business this summer. As Johnsen said: “We anticipate having a very strong showing. We plan to do very well and challenge for the trophy.”

Karpatalya to replace Felvidék at 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup

CONIFA regrets to advise that Felvidék has withdrawn from the 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup due to internal organisational issues. Karpatalya, representing an ethnic Hungarian minority in Ukraine, will replace Felvidék. Following the qualification phase, Karpatalya was named the first reserve team from the European region.

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. The 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup is being held in London between 31 May and 9 June. Tickets are now on sale.