Looking Back and Moving Forward!

During the European Football Cup 2015 the Executive Committee of CONIFA sat together to recap the preparations for the tournament and to decide on the next steps towards a bright future. After some silence following the tournament we now want to publish our views on the visa refusals to two of our honorable members, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and in the same time we want to look with you on all the amazing things that await us in 2016!

Looking back:

We would like to start with the most negatively touching experience we had to make since the foundation of CONIFA, which was the denial of the Hungarian authorities, in particular the Hungarian embassy in Moscow, to ignore the visa requests of our members from Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The whole Executive Committee still feels devastated looking to the unwanted political message and side-not this added to our tournament. From day 1 one of CONIFA’s main values is neutrality and the pure work for people, not for political ideas or opinions. Nevertheless the Hungarian authorities made us a victim of political and diplomatic strategies and unfortunately we could not avoid in time, even though we joined all forces to do so.

The main point that left us speechless about the fact that the visa applications have been ignored is that no reason was given at any time, while it was approved that all formalities are correct and despite their earlier Schengen visa for the CONIFA World Football Cup 2014. This gives us and the Abkhaz and South Ossetian delegations the bitter feeling that visas have been declined only on the basis that the delegates were Abkhaz or South Ossetians. This would surely contradict paragraph 13, the freedom of movement, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was signed by Hungary on 25.03.1969.

To express our shock and, most important, to reach a full investigation on the matter, we wrote an open letter to the embassy of Hungary in Moscow with copies being sent to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry, the European Union, the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and media all over the world. We hope to achieve a full investigation and reasoning on the case, which hopefully leads to the fact that we will never again have to face such problems.

In addition the letter is published here to give everyone a chance to follow our doings and get their own impressions:

Moving forward:

During the same meeting in Debrecen we luckily also had the time to speak about the future of CONIFA, especially about our doings in 2016.

Today we can happily and proudly announce that the host of the 2016 World Football Cup will be Abkhazia!

The formal bid Abkhazia filed convinced every single member of the Executive Committee, which led to an unanimous decision to grant the beautiful country at the Black Sea Cost the hosting rights.

As Abkhazia is a member of CONIFA from nearly the beginning and is quickly growing their Football Federation with more and more friendly matches taking place in Abkhazia and its capital city Sukhum we are sure that Abkhazia is a perfect choice to enjoy a perfect football and cultural experience.

Surely all our members that will make the travel will never forget the beauty of the country and its people.

Even though our decision was solely based on the perfect bid, which shows a top-class infrastructure and enthusiasm of a whole country, we are also delighted to send out the signal that we fully stand behind all our members and that we especially appreciate a well-running Football Federation with high aspirations.

The next important step now is to send a delegation of CONIFA to Abkhazia to negotiate all the little and big details about the upcoming tournament and to put pen on paper to secure all the arrangements.

As soon as the official invitation to Abkhazia and the meetings with the local authorities and Football Federations is received our president will have the pleasure to travel to Sukhum. From that day on we all will work 24/7 to highlight Abkhazia on the world map as a touristic paradise, as a sport event host and last but not least as the peaceful and lovely society it is today.

We are all very much looking forward to Abkhazia and a fantastic event and to make your mouth water as well we can only recommend to watch the following video to see how the lately-finished national stadium in Sukhum looks now as it is finished:

CONIFA Visits Transnistria: “We Are Ready to Start a Great Common Journey with You”

The week just before the European Football Cup in Debrecen a CONIFA went on an official visit to Transnistria. Especially the future president of the Football Association, Evgheni Balaniuc, made it more than a pleasant trip. Our General Secretary, Sascha Düerkop, and our South America Director, Jens Jockel, were even welcomed by the Foreign and Sport Ministries of the country. “Football has a huge tradition in Transnistria and we are looking forward to express that with our own national team very soon.”

After a short 1 1/2 hour trip with a rental car from Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, our delegation arrived at the borders of the “Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic”, as it is called officially. As we did have a personal invitation from the Foreign Ministry the border process was very easy and after all immigration and insurance paper were signed we could continue our journey through Bendery to the capital of Transnistria – Tiraspol. Evgheni Balaniuc, manager of the Moldovan First Division club Dinamo-Auto, author for uefa.com and future president of the Pridnestrovian Football Association awaited us in Tiraspol to show us our apartment for the stay – which was just next door to his flat. That is how our first visit to the small, but very nice, country started. Our host took all his time to quickly show us around the main sights in Tiraspol and answering all practical questions during the first evening.

During the touristic tours through the capital of Tiraspol, but also through Bendery, we got a good picture of the country and can only recommend everyone to visit it. Especially Tiraspol was, during our visit in summer, a very relaxed and laid-back place. Most people spend their daytime at the beach of the river Dniestr, that gives the country its name, or in one of the plenty parks in the green city. In the evenings and at night the locals took party boats floating on the river or headed in one of the plenty pubs or the top-class night club in the Sheriff-owned “Hotel Russia”. The overall impression was very positive and, most important and opposing some media reports we read before our travel, we can say that public life is totally peaceful and safe. Public crime is nearly non-existing and you will always feel safe walking around alone, no matter if 2 pm or 2 am.

One of the biggest sport centres in Europe

During the next days we were shown around the amazing sporting facilities of Tiraspol and its surrounding.

Evgheni Balaniuc’s club Dinamo-Auto has a 2009 built sport center just outside the city, including 2 training pitches, a very modern, even though small, stadium and a guest house that can easily host a guest team.

Right in the center of Tiraspol the national stadium is accessible freely for all citizens. It is an old-fashioned, but very atmospheric, multi-sport arena with around 20.000 seats.
Most impressive and well-known all over Europe was the Sports Complex “Sheriff” of the Moldovan football superpower “FC Sheriff Tiraspol”. Club coordinator Pogrebnoi Serghei greeted us, thanks to the organisation of the Foreign Ministry, at the gates of the breathtaking complex to show us all the facilities, which nearly took 2 hours due to the size of the complex. What feels like an own village at the outskirts of Tiraspol turned out to be a European top class sporting center with a full-pitch indoor stadium, 2 UEFA Europa League and Champions League certified outdoor stadiums, 8 training pitches, an Olympic swimming pool and a youth academy that can host up to 600 people.

Not only does Transnistria all the infrastructure to host friendly matches and/or tournament in and around Tiraspol, everyone we met also ensured us of their full support for the idea of CONIFA. Mr Balaniuc and Mr Serghei both agreed that their clubs (Dinamo-Auto and Sheriff) would happily play friendly matches against our members during pre-season or in the winter breaks. Both clubs also offered their facilities to be used by CONIFA for tournaments or friendly matches at any time.
In addition the Foreign Ministry and the Sports Ministry both expressed their desire to attract more international football in Transnistria by the help of CONIFA. After a few days in Tiraspol it became very clear that the opportunities for CONIFA in Transnistria are enormous and that we can start a long and fruitful journey together with the booming little country in the heart of Eastern Europe.

Strong support by the authorities

During a very valuable meeting with delegations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Sport all parties emphasized the strong support of the CONIFA values and were aiming for a strong cooperation with us. The Transnistrian diplomats explained us that football is traditionally very strong in their country and informed us about the clubs of the country, which traditionally are amongst the top teams in the Moldovan First Division and regularly play in international tournaments of UEFA. However, a national team was not formed yet, basically because the Transnistrian authorities were not aware of a proper platform, where such a team would be welcome to play.

Getting to know us, CONIFA, was received as an important stimulus to found a Football Association that manages a future national team. All paperworks have already been finished and filed to the Transnistrian Commerce Chamber. It was further unveiled that Evgheni Balaniuc, our host, was chosen to lead the newly build Football Association and that the FA is looking for CONIFA membership as soon as the national registration is finished.

Furthermore, the Foreign Ministry of Transnistria gave us an insight about the possibilities of Transnistria to host major events. They fully committed themselves to support any immigration processes for our members and to help with all organisational steps, should we grant them the hosting rights to a CONIFA event.

We happily received their wish to host a huge tournament “as soon as possible” in Tiraspol and/or Bendery.

Whatever the future will bring, surely the visit was a first very important step to get to know each other and exchange ones values. Our impression is that CONIFA and Transnistria fit perfectly and we can only strongly recommend every of our members to make a travel to Tiraspol to experience the perfect level of support and professionalism on their own.

A report of our meeting with the Ministries can also be found on the homepage of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic

Спасибо за прекрасное время! Увидимся в Тирасполе!