CONIFA: Football For The Forgotten

This is the culmination of a year’s hard work, including ten days in London meeting the teams and watching the games, over 50 interviews about their preparation and the barriers they face in competing in competitive football, and the generous help of some fine designers, editors, and assorted sport-loving types.

I’m really delighted to say that my book on the CONIFA World Football Cup and its participants, ‘CONIFA: Football For The Forgotten’ was published in April 2019.

The book looks like the image you can see to your right. Cover design is by David Dooley at Yo Kyoto! and editing by Stephen Byrne.  So let me tell you about it…

Want to skip straight to the ordering details? Click here

CONIFA is an organisation for unrecognized national or regional football teams, that hosts regular tournaments at a world and European level. Their members include a broad range of sides, taking in Tibet, Northern Cyprus, Donetsk, the Isle of Man (as Ellan Vannin), Cornwall (as Kernow), Matabeleland (a region of Zimbabwe), Kabylia (an area in modern day Algeria) and full-blown countries like Monaco, Kiribati and Tuvalu.

My book is hung on the 2018 World Football Cup, featuring 16 of these teams, and played in various non-league stadiums around London in late May and early June 2018. I go game by game, hanging out with the fans and the managers, the stars and the players who are leaving their own territory for the very first time in their lives.

The book is about the football, but more than that, it’s about the politics of the regions, the difficulties in getting to the tournament, the conditions the teams face, and the challenges endured by organizers. It tells CONIFA’s perspective, through extended interviews with two of the key men, and deals with the organization’s fairly intense critics, too.

Here are a few of the things I touch on:

  • CONIFA’s surreal formation, its roots, its financial issues and how it deals with the inherent politics of the regions it represents. The build-up to the tournament, and contingencies for the inevitable no show teams. Meet Per-Anders Blind, an indiginous Sapmi reindeer herder and businessman, and his partner in CONIFA, German shirt-collector and human rights activist Sascha Duerkop.
  • Backstories: how it all came to be for most teams in the tournament, to various degrees. What’s Kabylia’s politics, why were their arrests around their preparations, and why do they draw almost all their players from emigrants? What is a bio-region and how does it play into Cascadia’s team identity? What’s the story with Matabeleland’s campaign, which started with almost no kit and a daring English manager? What are Kiribati doing here, when they’re clearly a country?
  • Chats with people around or involved in almost every team, as well as CONIFA itself. Their stories are the very heart of this book. I meet the purveyor of ‘Terrible Football’, a soccer equivalent to Park Run, discussing why Asians are struggling to break into English football with Panjab fans, discussing weaknesses in the qualifying system, and learn why the Ellan Vannin side quit in protest.
  • The football: how former internationals for Hungary, North Korea, and Lithuania and players who’ve played Real Madrid in the Bernabeu ended up sharing the turf within amateurs from South Pacific islands and the best of Britain’s Somali community. Rule changes, fair play, and chasing dreams.
  • The atmosphere at the games, from getting my shoelaces burnt by Hungarian ultras, to how Bristol Rovers’ love for Tibet might have cost them some very high-end Chinese investors. Plus that incredible final in Enfield.
  • Wider consequences: how CONIFA faces pressure from national governments, protectors and conspiracy theorists.

ORDERS

Based in Ireland?

Padania and Matabeleland walk out at Gander Green Lane, Sutton ahead of their Group A game at the CONIFA World Football Cup

Order a physical copy of ‘CONIFA: Football For The Forgotten’ for €10, including postage, by clicking here (Paypal – please ensure you are providing me with an Irish address). Shipping within the week. Price – €10, free postage.

Based anywhere else?

Order a physical copy of ‘CONIFA: Football For The Forgotten’ by clicking here (Lulu – print on demand publishing).  Shipping and printing time advised on order – typically around 8-10 days total. Priced automatically based on local print prices, postage determined by Lulu.Note: Lulu puts ‘plus VAT’ on their prices in the EU. In many EU countries, books do not suffer VAT, so this will likely not add to your cost price. 

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Looking for digital?

Head over to Amazon (the book is available in all regions, but you may need to switch to your local store).

Preorders are now closed, as of April 2019. Thank you very much to those who supported this project financially in the early stages. It couldn’t have happened without you.

Why the Irish/ international price discrepancy?

I’m based in Ireland and have a large number of orders here. I’m publishing through Lulu, who can print any number of copies, from one up to my initial order of a  few hundred. This is both environmentally efficient and allows them to publish and ship from near to the recipient at lower postage costs.

I have ordered the books I need for Ireland, which, at local postage rates are cheaper to distribute myself. The discount I get from a bulk buying is wiped out, and more, by the cost of international shipping from Ireland, so it makes more sense and offers better value for anyone based elsewhere to buy directly from Lulu.

Featuring CONIFA 2018 teams: Padania, Matabeleland, Western Armenia, Tuvalu, Tibet, Northern Cyprus, Karpatalya, Szekely Land, Kabylia, Cascadia, Panjab, Ellan Vannin, Barawa, United Koreans In Japan, Abkhazia and Tamil Eelam.

Also featuring: the Terrible Football club, Dulwich Hamlets, Enfield Town, St Pauli, Darfur (and their new lady’s team), England’s dubious claim on a national team, Nigeria, the NF Board, the Chagos Islands, Jersey, and FIFA.

Looking for review copies/ have press related questions? Email me, and check out the press release here.

Karpatalya v Northern Cyprus, CONIFA Final at Enfield Town FC