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In Pictures: The 'Unrecognised World Cup'
Just before the World Cup, 12 teams from unrecognised or long-extinct states competed in a tournament of their own.
Last updated: 25 Jun 2014 13:07
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Ostersund, Sweden - Just a few days before the start of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, another World Cup took place in the northern hemisphere, with the champion hailing from a small county that last existed 150 years ago. It extended across portions of Italy and France and was called Contea de Nissa. 

Ostersund, the hosting town, is part of Sweden. But the Sami, a nomadic population of reindeer herders, consider it the southern capital of Sapmi - also known as Lappland - a region that includes the northern portions of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia.

The tournament was hosted by the recently founded Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA), a football organisation made up of teams hailing from disputed territories and long-extinct nations not affiliated with FIFA.

This alternative tournament featured 12 teams, including Abkhazia and South Ossetia, separatist territories that are formally part of the Republic of Georgia; Nagorno-Karabakh, the focal point of an unsettled conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia; Darfur, a strife-torn region of western Sudan; Kurdistan; Tamil Eelam, a proposed state within Sri Lanka; the Arameans - a team representing the descendants of the Assyro-Babylonian people; and clubs from long-lost European states such as Occitania and Padania.

"There is no prize in cash. Players that normally just represent local clubs are now competing for their whole region, and are bringing home pride and dignity for their people," said Per-Anders Lund, the president of CONIFA.

"I will [hold] this tournament forever in my heart," said footballer Valery Makiev, 28, from South Ossetia. "I discovered how good people are also outside my own country."


/Jacob Balzani Loov/Al Jazeera

The Nagorno-Karabakh team stands during the playing of the national anthems before a game. Although the football federation of Azerbaijan requested that CONIFA prevent the breakaway republic from participating, CONIFA declined to do so.



/Jacob Balzani Loov/Al Jazeera

Nagorno-Karabakh beat Darfur 12-0. Darfur lost every match it played. Under the motto "Football and no guns", the team was created by the NGO I-act, with the goal of bringing attention to the situation in Sudan's troubled western region.



/Jacob Balzani Loov/Al Jazeera

Referees and the teams of Abkhazia and Padania line up before the match. Abkhazia is a disputed territory claimed by the Republic of Georgia, while Padania is a region in northern Italy. Lega Lombarda, a political party that supports the federalisation of Italy, created the concept of Padania during the 1990s.



/Jacob Balzani Loov/Al Jazeera

Abkhazia scores a goal on Padania FA during penalties. Abkhazia ultimately won the game, placing eighth in the tournament. 



/Jacob Balzani Loov/Al Jazeera

The team of Padania stands during their national anthem before a game. Among the players is Enock Barwuah, the younger brother of "Super Mario" Balotelli, the legendary AC Milan striker. He admits he doesn't know much about the other teams; he is here just to play.



/Jacob Balzani Loov/Al Jazeera

Kurdistan's bench observes the game against Padania. Kurdistan lost the game, placing sixth in the tournament. While Padania players are mostly amateurs, the Kurdish players come from professional leagues. 



/Jacob Balzani Loov/Al Jazeera

A Nagorno-Karbakh player receives a placement medal during the award ceremony. They placed ninth in the tournament after winning 5-1 against Sapmi. Among the teams from the Caucasus, Nagorno-Karabakh is the only one made up of professional players. 



/Jacob Balzani Loov/Al Jazeera

Players from South Ossetia sulk after losing the bronze medal match against Arameans Suryoye, the diaspora of the Aramaic-speaking descendants of Assyria.



/Jacob Balzani Loov/Al Jazeera

Supporters of Sapmi watch their team. Sapmi is the name of the cultural region traditionally inhabited by the Sami people, or Lapplanders. Although no political organisation advocates secession, several groups desire more autonomy for the region's indigenous population.



/Jacob Balzani Loov/Al Jazeera

The Tamil Eelam team beat Darfur 10-0, placing 11th in the tournament. The players came from the Tamil diaspora, which has scattered around the world following Sri Lanka's 1983-2009 civil war.



/Jacob Balzani Loov/Al Jazeera

The team of Ellan Vannin, before the final against Contea de Nissa. Ellan Vannin is the local name for the Isle of Man, a self-governing British Crown Dependency located between Northern Ireland and Scotland.



/Jacob Balzani Loov/Al Jazeera

Ellan Vannin and Contea de Nissa FA face off in the finals. After the match ended in a tie, Ellan Vannin lost during penalties.



/Jacob Balzani Loov/Al Jazeera

Ismail Abdulrhman, 25, a player on the Darfur team, held a small sign that read: "International Crime Court Darfur [is waiting for] you."



/Jacob Balzani Loov/Al Jazeera

Contea de Nissa celebrates their victory over Ellan Vannin. Contea de Nissa, a country between modern-day Italy and France, ceased to exist in 1860 when it was annexed by France.



/Jacob Balzani Loov/Al Jazeera

Ellan Vannin celebrates their second-place finish. "It is incredible how far you can get if you believe in yourself, your country and your people," said Chris Bass, 54, the team manager of Ellen Vannin. "We lost on penalties, but as you have to do in real life, we have to move on and accept it."




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images:
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captions:

The Nagorno-Karabakh team stands during the playing of the national anthems before a game. Although the football federation of Azerbaijan requested that CONIFA prevent the breakaway republic from participating, CONIFA declined to do so.

;*;

Nagorno-Karabakh beat Darfur 12-0. Darfur lost every match it played. Under the motto "Football and no guns", the team was created by the NGO I-act, with the goal of bringing attention to the situation in Sudan(***)s troubled western region.

;*;

Referees and the teams of Abkhazia and Padania line up before the match. Abkhazia is a disputed territory claimed by the Republic of Georgia, while Padania is a region in northern Italy. Lega Lombarda, a political party that supports the federalisation of Italy, created the concept of Padania during the 1990s.

;*;

Abkhazia scores a goal on Padania FA during penalties. Abkhazia ultimately won the game, placing eighth in the tournament. 

;*;

The team of Padania stands during their national anthem before a game. Among the players is Enock Barwuah, the younger brother of "Super Mario" Balotelli, the legendary AC Milan striker. He admits he doesn(***)t know much about the other teams; he is here just to play.

;*;

Kurdistan(***)s bench observes the game against Padania. Kurdistan lost the game, placing sixth in the tournament. While Padania players are mostly amateurs, the Kurdish players come from professional leagues. 

;*;

A Nagorno-Karbakh player receives a placement medal during the award ceremony. They placed ninth in the tournament after winning 5-1 against Sapmi. Among the teams from the Caucasus, Nagorno-Karabakh is the only one made up of professional players. 

;*;

Players from South Ossetia sulk after losing the bronze medal match against Arameans Suryoye, the diaspora of the Aramaic-speaking descendants of Assyria.

;*;

Supporters of Sapmi watch their team. Sapmi is the name of the cultural region traditionally inhabited by the Sami people, or Lapplanders. Although no political organisation advocates secession, several groups desire more autonomy for the region(***)s indigenous population.

;*;

The Tamil Eelam team beat Darfur 10-0, placing 11th in the tournament. The players came from the Tamil diaspora, which has scattered around the world following Sri Lanka(***)s 1983-2009 civil war.

;*;

The team of Ellan Vannin, before the final against Contea de Nissa. Ellan Vannin is the local name for the Isle of Man, a self-governing British Crown Dependency located between Northern Ireland and Scotland.

;*;

Ellan Vannin and Contea de Nissa FA face off in the finals. After the match ended in a tie, Ellan Vannin lost during penalties.

;*;

Ismail Abdulrhman, 25, a player on the Darfur team, held a small sign that read: "International Crime Court Darfur [is waiting for] you."

;*;

Contea de Nissa celebrates their victory over Ellan Vannin. Contea de Nissa, a country between modern-day Italy and France, ceased to exist in 1860 when it was annexed by France.

;*;

Ellan Vannin celebrates their second-place finish. "It is incredible how far you can get if you believe in yourself, your country and your people," said Chris Bass, 54, the team manager of Ellen Vannin. "We lost on penalties, but as you have to do in real life, we have to move on and accept it."

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Image Source:
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Gallery Source:
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