Ellan Vannin ready to take on the world this summer

Written by: Alun Macer-Wright
Twitter: @alunmw221

Ellan Vannin, better known to most as the Isle of Man, will be the only team representing the British Isles at this year’s CONIFA Paddy Power World Football Cup in London, and will hope to make the most of this ‘home advantage’.

Ellan Vannin will enter the tournament as one of the favourites on paper, sitting in fourth in the latest CONIFA World Rankings, and having reached the final the last time they competed in the Confederation’s flagship competition in 2014. On that occasion, they lost on penalties to the County of Nice. In 2016, they withdrew from the competition after receiving advice from the British Home Office not to travel to the host nation of Abkhazia.

Manx International Football Alliance (MIFA) chairman Malcolm Blackburn said: “Everybody associated with Ellan Vannin is counting down the days to our first match against Cascadia on the 31st May.”

Blackburn describes the tournament as “going into the unknown” with regard to the strength of opposition teams, but was optimistic about the Manxmen’s chances: “As a team made up of mainly amateur players, we always appear to be able to ‘kick above our weight’. The enthusiasm of our players and management is infectious and does appear to take us to a level where we can compete with the best,” he said.

The island iteself is a self-governing British Crown dependency in the Irish Sea, having never become part of the United Kingdom. The legislature of the Isle of Man, called ‘Tynwald’, was put into place by Vikings more than 1,000 years ago and thus is the oldest continuous parliamentary body in the world. It was also the first national legislative body in the world to give women the right to vote in a general election, although married women were excluded.

The Isle of Man has a distinct identity, including the Manx language, in which “Ellan Vannin” is the name of the island. The language is closely related to Scottish and Irish Gaelic, and although the last native speaker, Ned Maddrell, died in 1974, and it was declared extinct by UNESCO in 2009, it has enjoyed somewhat of a revival on the island since that point.

Participation in London will add to an exciting summer period in Manx sport, with the island also sending 33 athletes to the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast. With a population of fewer than 85,000 people, the Manx are certainly punching above their weight in the sporting arena.

The Ellan Vannin side is CONIFA-affiliated and players are required to have Manx ties.  This makes it distinct from the Isle of Man FA side which competes in competitions such as the Island Games. After initial friction around the idea of the Ellan Vannin team from MIFA and IOMFA (the English FA county association), the two parties executed a Memorandum of Understanding in March 2014.

Following their breakthrough success at the World Football Cup in Sápmi in 2014, the Manxmen went on to claim bronze in the 2015 CONIFA European Football Cup and gold at the 2015 NIAMH Challenge Cup.

Amongst their key players in London will be the likes of captain, Frank Jones, who has played in every one of their 25 games since their first against Monaco in 2014. MIFA chairman Blackburn was keen to stress the importance of the team unit as a whole however: “The strength of Ellan Vannin is that we play as a team and as such it would be very difficult to single out any one player.”

Ellan Vannin is the twin team of Darfur United, a team consisting of refugees on the Chad border, for whom they have raised funds. In the same CONIFA spirit, Blackburn said: “Who knows what London holds for us but I am sure that once again Ellan Vannin will make a lot of friends in the CONIFA family.”

Ellan Vannin were the first opponents of new CONIFA members, Yorkshire, with the sides playing out a 1-1 draw in Fitzwilliam in January 2018.

The team’s preparation for this summer’s tournament will include a match against England Universities in Sandbach on April 29. They will also participate in the Yorkshire-based Jorvik Trophy against Yorkshire and Tibet from May 24-26, shortly before the CONIFA World Football Cup gets underway.

Partner Opportunities Available for WFC 2018

The World Football Cup 2018 is less than one month away.  With Title Sponsor Paddy Power and ticketing partner Eventim in place, WFC 2018 is already a lock to have CONIFA’s largest audience ever.

With 48 matches to play and with CONIFA representing regions consisting of over 300,000,000 people, the opportunity for marketing is massive.  And with a wide array of branding opportunities, CONIFA is looking for commercial partners of all shapes and sizes to be a part of the 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup in London.

If you are interested in becoming part of a unique international event, please get in touch with our sponsorship manager, Dean Madders.  The world is waiting to see your organisation!

Padania Set Their Sights on Gold at WFC 2018

Written by: Alun Macer-Wright
Twitter: @alunmw221


London is used to seeing plenty of St George’s flags during a World Cup summer, and there will be a few more in the capital this time around as Padania, who share the banner, come to town for the CONIFA World Football Cup.

The Padania Football Association was founded to represent the 8 northern regions of Italy, based around the Po Valley.

Despite being one of the odds-on favourites for the tournament, Padania are guarding against any complacency.

“We don’t think the gold is granted,” Padania’s media and commercial manager Marco Marramao said. “Every single team is getting stronger year after year and every single match will be a battle because everyone wants to be ‘the one who defeated Padania’.”

As seasoned non-FIFA campaigners and CONIFA’s 2nd ranked side, Padania’s favourites tag is no surprise. They have won both editions of the CONIFA European Football Cup to date, without losing a game, as well as a 4th place finish at the 2016 World Football Cup in Abkhazia. Prior to this, they won the VIVA World Cup three years in succession from 2008 to 2010.

The quality of player Padania are bringing to London is as formidable as their record. Their line-up is set to feature Marius Stankevičius, the experienced Lithuanian international who has played top-division football in Italy, Spain, Germany and Turkey.

“We have many other stars: Stefano Tignonsini, our captain, who has been with Padania since the beginning and Andrea Rota, the one with the most goals (7) who is still playing for Padania. But watch out for anyone, because they are very skilled players,” Marramao said.

The backbone of the team remains much the same as the side which was victorious in Northern Cyprus last year, so Marramao is confident that a lack of warm-up fixtures will not disadvantage the team.

The aura of London should be more than enough to motivate the team, he said. “London is such an inspiring place for playing football and it would be nice to win a World Cup where football itself began.”

Italy’s strong regional identities are perhaps not surprising when considering the variety of city states and duchies which made up its modern-day boundaries.

As Italy’s only representatives at a global football tournament this summer, Padania will hope to add to their already impressive CONIFA record with a World Football Cup title next month.

Stadium and ticketing information for CONIFA’s 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup

In the coming weeks CONIFA will be releasing stadium and ticketing information for the 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup, to be held in London between 31 May and 9 June. This page will be updated as more information becomes available. The tournament will involve 16 teams from across the globe, competing to add their name to the CONIFA World Football Cup honour roll alongside past victors County of Nice (2014) and Abkhazia (2016) . Unlike many other major international tournament, CONIFA events include placement games for teams that do not qualify for the quarter-finals. This is done to ensure CONIFA is fulfiling its core mission: giving everyone an opportunity to play football.

Please note that the dates and times for games that do not presently have a stadium assigned or tickets available are provisional and subject to change.

Thursday 31 May

12pm, Gander Green Lane (Sutton United FC): Ellan Vannin v Cascadia (Group A) – buy tickets

12pm, Queen Elizabeth II Stadium (Enfield Town FC): Abkhazia v Tibet (Group B) – buy tickets

12pm, Coles Park Stadium (Haringey Borough FC): Székely Land v Tuvalu (Group C) – buy tickets

12pm, Colston Avenue Football Stadium (Carshalton Athletic FC): United Koreans in Japan v Western Armenia (Group D) – buy tickets

3pm, Queen Elizabeth II Stadium (Enfield Town FC): Northern Cyprus v Karpatalya (Group B) – buy tickets

3pm, Gander Green Lane (Sutton United FC): Padania v Matabeleland (Group C) – buy tickets

3pm, Arbour Park (Slough Town FC): Panjab v Kabylia (Group D) – buy tickets

7pm, Hayes Lane (Bromley FC): 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup Opening Ceremony

8pm, Hayes Lane (Bromley FC): Barawa v Tamil Eelam (Group A) – buy tickets

Friday 1 June

Rest day

Saturday 2 June

2pm, Colston Avenue Football Stadium (Carshalton Athletic FC): Barawa v Cascadia (Group A) – buy tickets

2pm, Queen Elizabeth II Stadium (Enfield Town FC): Abkhazia v Karpatalya (Group B) – buy tickets

2pm: Coles Park Stadium (Haringey Borough FC): Székely Land v Matabeleland (Group C) – buy tickets

2pm, Larges Lane (Bracknell Town FC): United Koreans in Japan v Kabylia (Group D) – buy tickets

5pm, Colston Avenue Football Stadium (Carshalton Athletic FC): Ellan Vannin v Tamil Eelam (Group A) – buy tickets

5pm, Queen Elizabeth II Stadium (Enfield Town FC): Northern Cyprus v Tibet (Group B) – buy tickets

5pm: Coles Park Stadium (Haringey Borough FC): Padania v Tuvalu (Group C) – buy tickets

5pm, Arbour Park (Slough Town FC): Panjab v Western Armenia (Group D) – buy tickets

Sunday 3 June

3pm: Coles Park Stadium (Haringey Borough FC): Barawa v Ellan Vannin (Group A) – buy tickets

3pm, St Paul’s Sports Ground (Fisher FC): Tamil Eelam v Cascadia (Group A) – buy tickets

3pm, Queen Elizabeth II Stadium (Enfield Town FC): Abkhazia v Northern Cyprus (Group B) – buy tickets

3pm, Larges Lane (Bracknell Town FC): Karpatalya v Tibet (Group B) – buy tickets

6pm, Coles Park Stadium (Haringey Borough FC): Tuvalu v Matabeleland (Group C) – buy tickets

6pm, Bedfont Recreation Ground (Bedfont Sports FC): Padania v Székely Land (Group C) – buy tickets

6pm, Queen Elizabeth II Stadium (Enfield Town FC): Western Armenia v Kabylia (Group D) – buy tickets

6pm, Arbour Park (Slough Town FC): Panjab v United Koreans in Japan (Group D) – buy tickets

Monday 4 June

Rest day

Tuesday 5 June

3pm, Gander Green Lane (Sutton United FC): Quarter-Final A (Group A Winner v Group B Runner-Up) – buy tickets

3pm, Larges Lane (Bracknell Town FC): Quarter-Final B (Group C Winner v Group D Runner-Up) – buy tickets

3pm, Hayes Lane (Bromley FC): Quarterfinal A for Places 9-16 (3rd, Group A v 4th, Group B) – buy tickets

3pm, Queen Elizabeth II Stadium (Enfield Town FC): Quarterfinal B for Places 9-16 (3rd, Group C v 4th, Group D) – buy tickets

6pm, Gander Green Lane (Sutton United FC): Quarter-Final C (Group A Runner-Up v Group B Winner) – buy tickets

6pm, Hayes Lane (Bromley FC): Quarter-Final D (Group C Runner-Up v Group D Winner) – buy tickets

6pm, Parkside (Aveley FC): Quarterfinal C for Places 9-16 (4th, Group A v 3rd, Group B) – buy tickets

6pm, Larges Lane (Bracknell Town FC): Quarterfinal D for Places 9-16 (4th, Group C v 3rd, Group D) – buy tickets

Wednesday 6 June

Rest day

Thursday 7 June

12pm, Parkside (Aveley FC): Semifinal A for Places 13-16 – buy tickets

12pm, Gander Green Lane (Sutton United FC): Semifinal B for Places 13-16 – buy tickets

12pm, Queen Elizabeth II Stadium (Enfield Town FC): Semifinal A for Places 9-12 – buy tickets

12pm, Hayes Lane (Bromley FC): Semifinal B for Places 9-12 – buy tickets

3pm, Gander Green Lane (Sutton United FC): Semifinal A for Places 5-8 – buy tickets

3pm, Hayes Lane (Bromley FC): Semifinal B for Places 5-8 – buy tickets

5pm, Colston Avenue Football Stadium (Carshalton Athletic FC): Semifinal A (Winner, Quarterfinal A v Winner, Quarterfinal B) – buy tickets

8pm, Colston Avenue Football Stadium (Carshalton Athletic FC): Semifinal B (Winner, Quarterfinal C v Winner, Quarterfinal D) – buy tickets

Friday 8 June

Rest day

Saturday 9 June

12pm, Bedfont Recreation Ground (Bedfont Sports FC): 15th/16th Placement Game – buy tickets

12pm, Parkside (Aveley FC): 13th/14th Placement Game – buy tickets

12pm, St Paul’s Sports Ground (Fisher FC): 11th/12th Placement Game – buy tickets

3pm, Coles Park Stadium (Haringey Borough FC): 9th/10th Placement Game – Tickets on sale soon!

3pm, Parkside (Aveley FC): 7th/8th Placement Game – Tickets on sale soon!

3pm, St Paul’s Sports Ground (Fisher FC): 5th/6th Placement Game – buy tickets

3pm, Queen Elizabeth II Stadium (Enfield Town FC): Third Place Play-Off (Loser, Semifinal A v Loser, Semifinal B) – buy tickets

6pm, Queen Elizabeth II Stadium (Enfield Town FC): Grand Final (Winner, Semifinal A v Winner, Semifinal B) – buy tickets

8.30pm, Queen Elizabeth II Stadium (Enfield Town FC): 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup Closing Ceremony

Tuvalu to replace Kiribati at the 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup

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.

Carshalton Athletic to host CONIFA World Football Cup clashes

Please note that since this post was published, additional games have been added at Colston Avenue. The full fixture list is available here.

Carshalton Athletic FC’s Colston Avenue Football Stadium will host two matches during the Confederation of Independent Football Association’s 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup. Both encounters will take place on Saturday 2 June, with Barawa v Cascadia kicking off at 2pm (UK time) followed by Ellan Vannin (Isle of Man) v Tamil Eelam later in the afternoon at 5pm.

Carshalton Athletic, nicknamed the Robins, are based at the War Memorial Sports Ground in Carshalton, Sutton. The Colston Avenue Football Stadium has capacity for 5,000 spectators, the majority standing. The team are currently flying high in the the Bostik League South division, where they sit in third place.

‘We are delighted to be hosting matches during the 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup,’ said club owner and chairman Paul Dipre. ‘We have a shared ethos with CONIFA – football for all – and so we embraced this opportunity to support the tournament.’

‘It is fantastic to partner with a well-run club with fantastic community engagement,’ said CONIFA General Secretary Sascha Düerkop. ‘We are really looking forward to bringing the CONIFA story to Carshalton.’

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