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There's Another World Cup Taking Place Far Away From Russia And Gross Commercialism

There's Another World Cup Taking Place Far Away From Russia And Gross Commercialism
By Ste McGovern Updated

If you thought the week and a bit break between the end of the warm-up friendlies and the FIFA World Cup was devoid of any footballing action, you would have been totally wrong.

An alternative to the over-produced, massively commercialised showpiece in Russia this summer is currently taking place in London. The Confederation of Independent Football Associations is a non-profit organisation staging the third iteration of its World Football Cup at the moment.

According to their own website, ConIFA "supports representatives of international football teams from nations, de-facto nations, regions, minority peoples and sports isolated territories."

Many of the teams featured in the tournament, for one reason or another, can't join FIFA or simply don't want to. For instance, there's Tibet. If a Tibetan footballer wants to play international football they would have to declare for China, which, as one might imagine, could be problematic for the player. But there are also regions, such as Padania in northern Italy and Yorkshire in England, who were recently admitted to the confederation.

In essence, the goal of ConIFA is to eliminate the barriers that exclude so many people around the world from enjoying the beautiful game.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVmR_j265Xg


Billy Mehmet is one such person enjoying his football at the World Football Cup with Northern Cyprus.

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The former Irish youth international has been playing a blinder in London this week as the Cypriot side have cruised to the semi-finals thanks to an 8-0 win over Barawa in the quarters.

Mehmet never won a senior cap for Ireland, playing six times for the U21's, but he also qualified for England and Cyprus, his father's birthplace.

Speaking to Goal this week, Mehmet explained what it meant to him to be involved with the little-known region's football team.

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I'm a little bit gutted - I could have played for them a long time ago. The only problem was that I didn't really know about the team - this is my first year with them.

I always said that I would love to play for the country in which my dad was born. Not only that, but to play in the country in which we were brought up is ideal. So it's a proud moment for me and a proud moment for my dad as well.

The striker's career has seen him play all over the world, but he has no regrets over committing to Ireland despite never getting called up to the full team.

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I didn't really look into representing Cyprus when I was younger. I only ever really went for the Republic of Ireland, and played for them and kept my eyes open for a callup from them. But [representing Cyprus] wasn't something I really looked into. If I had done so a bit earlier, and put my name in the hat, I might have got a call-up for Cyprus, but it is what it is, I'm happy with where I am now…

I know I'm not going to get a call-up to the Ireland side, so it's a dream to play international football, even though it's a little bit different than the setup in Ireland in terms of the level. But it's good to be involved and anything you enter you want to win.

Although Mehmet wishes he could have featured for Northern Cyprus more had he discovered the team earlier, he's taking his opportunity with both hands as they look to make it all the way to the final of a tournament not enough people are aware of.

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It's a big thing. It's massive, you know. To go back and win the World Cup is a massive thing - it doesn't matter what level it's at, it's a World Cup. So if we can go and take the trophy home, it'll be a great moment for everyone.

Northern Cyprus face a tough battle to get there though, as they face a tough Padania side in the semi-finals on June 7. You can stream the remaining games on ConIFA's website while having an Irish interest to cheer on

Of course it also means there's a second world tournament we can enjoy England not winning this year.

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SEE ALSO: "Brave Ethical Decision" - Argentina Praised For Cancelling Israel Friendly



 

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