By Pat McGuinness
“CONIFA is way more than just a football association. It is also a tool for peoples to make their voices heard through sports.” So says Andreas Trenker, winner of the recent competition to design CONIFA’s new logo, and his effort, which was recently chosen out of a field of some thirty entries, is stunning yet easy on the eye.
Andreas (pictured below) hails from Sudtirol, an autonomous region in northern Italy bordering Austria and Switzerland which Italy’s German-speaking minority calls home. (Fans of the EUROPEADA tournament will immediately recognise the name of the region).
He works as a graphic designer and also as a teaching assistant at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano’s Faculty of Design and Art, and, in his own words, is “living between the Dolomites mountains and Amsterdam.”
Two iconic locations, indeed, and when he read about the chance to design an iconic emblem for CONIFA, it was an opportunity the twenty-nine-year-old couldn’t pass up, though it came about by accident.
“Since some time ago, I planned to visit the CONIFA tournament as a photographer to document this interesting event, but each time something got into my way. As I checked if this year’s edition got cancelled because of COVID-19, I came across the open call for a new logo and decided to participate.”
Andreas said that his aim was to highlight CONIFA’s ethos in his entry, and explained the fuller meaning behind the logo: “For me, it was important to transmit the values of CONIFA in the logo. CONIFA to me is a sort of intersectional space where peoples from various parts of the world get in touch through football. It’s a place of dialogue situated beyond the general idea of geographical or national borders.
“So, CONIFA is way more than just a football association. It is also a tool for peoples to make their voice heard through sports. Therefore, I wanted to bring this aspect of dialogue, friendship and athletic competition into my design.”
He based his design on a football, and it wasn’t the image of just any old football, either:
“I wanted to get the shape of a football into the negative space of the logo, so that it is not immediately visible but still recognisable. The faces in the form of hexagons were inspired by the iconic Adidas Telstar football of the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, a great piece of design which became the stereotype of when we think about a football. The single faces are oriented towards the centre, to highlight this idea of exchange and dialogue through sports.”
Three versions of the logo were made, a white-on-black design, a black-and-white version, and a colour version. The first two versions were no less dramatic than the colour version, but Andreas decided to submit the colour version to the judges.
The sheer diversity of CONIFA’s member associations and the organisation’s policy of inclusion came to the fore when making his decision as to which version of his entry he would submit, as he explained. He then went on to describe the process of turning his design from a pencil sketch into his actual entry.
“The monochromatic version of the logo has either only black faces (on a white background) or only white faces (on a black background) and because this could give the wrong idea of exclusion, it was very important to have a colour version of the logo in which each hexagon has a different colour and therefore stands for the diversity of the cultures, languages and ethnicities represented by CONIFA. The logotype was designed exclusively for CONIFA.”
“I worked on different sketches until I came up with the final design. I guess the whole process took about 4 days and later I finalized the design in dialogue with the CONIFA team. This took another 2 days and consisted mostly in fine-tuning the initial design, fixing some shapes and distances to make them work the same on both bright and dark backgrounds and in putting together a colour scheme which works for CONIFA. There were many variations and tests involved such as a version with six instead of five heads.”
Thanks to his father’s influence, Andreas has followed German third-level side 1860 Munich since childhood, but, as he admits, he is not what he would call a “classical” football fan. However, he is, as he says himself, “more interested in the culture and subcultures which emerge and surround this beautiful game. For me as a graphic designer, the world of football is very rich in visual language and this world is very inspirational, reaching from the visual influences of the Ultras subculture to the beautiful kits worn by Mexican goalie Jorge Campos.”
Although the outbreak of the Corona virus, and the subsequent pandemic, put paid to his plans to attend a CONIFA tournament this year, Andreas is nevertheless intent on doing so in the very near future, and follows the twists and turns of each and every tournament under the organisation’s auspices. He also mentioned what CONIFA means to him; it is, to paraphrase Barcelona’s club motto, more than a football confederation.
“CONIFA is also a means to learn about the world surrounding us. Thanks to these tournaments and its members one can gain knowledge about some geopolitical situations, different ethnicities or peoples connected across several nation-states. But, it is also a platform for those football nations which are not recognized by FIFA.
“So, for all these countries, regions and ethnic groups [outside FIFA’s scope, being a CONIFA member] is a great opportunity to be visible on a global scale and to make their voice heard. And, as long as this doesn’t turn into nationalism or any sort of hostilities, this seems to me to be a beautiful thing.”
Andreas doesn’t follow a particular CONIFA team, but, if he was forced to choose one to follow, he says that “it will be the one which will hire me to design their new jerseys. (Laughs) I’ve always wanted to design a football strip.” Which leads us back to 1860 Munich and their badge: “Let’s be honest, they have one of the most beautiful football logos in Europe.” So, now, too, does CONIFA.
To find out more about Andreas and his work, kindly visit: www.andreastrenker.com