What is CONIFA all about?
Sascha Düerkop, General Secretary: “The Confederation of Independent Football Associations is a global umbrella organization for national teams not under the auspices of FIFA – representing nations, minorities, isolated dependencies or cultural regions. Our main goal is to give football outsiders overseen by FIFA or left behind by their mothers country FA the chance to win their place on a global stage and advance footballwise and personally. Most of our member’s players do not have the chance to regularly play international football or are not valid to play for any of the FIFA members. Others, even if there is a theoretically opportunity to play for a FIFA member FA, have the feeling to represent a foreign country than their own. We give them the chance to play for the entity they feel part of in the bottom of their hearts.”
CONIFA is more than football? What are the other objectives? Is it about politics?
Düerkop: “We do have many values and aims off the football pitch. One of the main reasons CONIFA exists is that we want to bridge the world and bring people together from all over the world. This should be done in a way which leaves all politics behind. We do not judge if our members deserve political independence. We want to put them all on the world map by showing their members and people to the world and give them the chance to represent themself. Politically we are 100 percent neutral and the only thing we do is making aware of our members. This leads to people thinking or educating themself about the countries/minorities/regions they come from. Each player, in that sense, is an ambassador of his nation or people.”
How is CONIFA working at the moment?
Düerkop: “At this moment everyone involved works fully voluntarily. Including the president none of us gets any payments from CONIFA. We finance ourselves 100% through sponsoring, public support, donations, membership fees and last but not least income through tournaments.”
The first CONIFA World Cup took place in june. How was it?
Düerkop: “In my opinion, and in the eyes of the players, it was an extraordinary and once-in-a-lifetime experience to all people involved! 12 teams, most of them never met before, came to Östersund as foreigners and went home as friends. The atmosphere in the beginning was obviously excited to nervous as nobody really knew what to expect. During the week the atmosphere got more and more friendly and ended in long standing ovations to every single team during the final banquett. During the final banquett the spokesperson of Kurdistan FA said in his speech that “we all grew together to a huge family during that week” and this is the feeling that everybody agrees on. Totally strangers taught each other about their heritage, culture and history and shared their stories off the pitch. Of course the teams had the chance to share there cultures through hours and hours of direct contact to each other all over the city of Östersund.”
What’s CONIFA relation with FIFA?
Düerkop: “We have good, but not that frequent, relations to FIFA. The last statement of them about our actions was more than positive as they stated that they applaud our work.”
Does CONIFA help members to join FIFA?
Düerkop: “Yes and no. We do whatever is possible to help our members. This of course includes support in FIFA membership application processes. Until today none of our members requested that help actively, though, as only a few of our members currently wish to join FIFA and their applications have been filled before they joined CONIFA.”
What are the upcoming projects and tournaments?
Düerkop: “We will have friendly matches and tournaments to come this year. All information on those will be published as soon as anything is 100 percent confirmed by all participants. The next major tournaments will be the European Championship 2015 and World Football Cup 2016. 3 possible hosts applied to carry out the 2015 European Championship. We always hope to integrate all our members in the best possible way. Besides we are always open for applications of new Football Associations from all over the world. A lot more of contacts have been made during the next year and I am quite sure that the CONIFA family will keep growing!”