CONIFA: Football For The Forgotten

I will be at the World Cup this summer. No, not that World Cup. The one I’m talking about takes place in London, not Russia. It’s not technically the ‘world cup’, but the ‘CONIFA World Football Cup‘. It features the only Italian side to be playing a soccer world cup this summer, and the only American side. Better than that, it features the national sides of Tuvalu, Tibet, The Isle Of Man and Northern Cyprus, plus 12 other teams, some representing places you’ve probably never even heard of. And here’s the thing. I’ll be writing a book about it all.

Looking for pre-order? Please scroll to the bottom of this post.

Please find an update on the book’s progress as of mid-October here.

So let me tell you about it. This is not a book about football. Well, it is, in a sense, but it’s also a book about overcoming the odds. About being rejected from the football mainstream, but fighting back. About training for an international tournament with only a single ball. It’s about representing one country, but being forced to live your life in another. About finding sporting representation as a rank outsider; overcoming footballing and political superpowers to find a place.

It’s about scrambling a team together in a few weeks to represent millions of people, or fronting a multi-continental organization on a near-bankrupt shoestring because it’s that important to your indigenous reindeer-herding Scandinavian ethnic minority that they have their own global, international outlet. Those last two paragraphs probably sound like hyperbole. I couldn’t quite believe it either, but every word of them is real.

The tournament hasn’t even started, but I’ve done my research, and this is a hell of a story. It’s a story that hasn’t been told before, at least not in more than fragmented glances of a couple of thousand words. Join me in uncovering another footballing world…

So What’s This All About?

The CONIFA Football World Cup is a tournament for international soccer teams that either can’t – or don’t want to – play under the FIFA banner. The 2018 tournament takes place in London, in May and June 2018, but is hosted by Barawa, the representatives of a region of southern Somalia, many of whom now live in London. The teams taking to the field vary from well-known political outsiders (Tibet, Northern Cyprus) to minority groups little known outside of their own regions, like the Zimbabwean region of Matabeleland, and a separatist district of Georgia, Abkhazia. There are regions you’ll have heard of, but not like this, such as the Isle of Man playing under their Celtic heading ‘Ellan Vannin’, the northwestern region of the USA and some of south-west Canada, playing as ‘Cascadia’, and ‘Padania’, a proposed independent state in the north of Italy.

For footballing aficionados, there are some familiar names. For my numerous Irish friends, you might recognize Sligo Rovers player Seamus Sharkey, who’ll be turning out for Ellan Vannin. There are also professionals from clubs including Arsenal Tula (Russian premier division), QPR, Millwall, Barnet, and a number of Romanian, Slovakian, Armenian, and Hungarian top tier teams. One player, Yong Hak An, player-coach at United Koreans In Japan, once played against Brazil and Portugal for North Korea at the World Cup. Euro 2016 Final referee Mark Clattenburg will turn out to officiate. At the other extreme, sides like Tibet and Tuvalu are complete unknowns, without a professional player from a recognized national tier between them, being drawn in full from home-grown leagues.

It’s not the players you’ll come for, though, or the games themselves, but the stories. You’ll have to buy the book to hear them.


I’ve been writing professionally for ten years, on a range of topics incorporating travel, sport, music and social issues, many of which you can read about elsewhere on this website. In this, my debut for-publication book (I have ghostwritten a number of others), I will combine my love of grassroots football with an exploration of the incredible stories behind the 16 sides traveling to London, the tournament itself, and the realities of playing football on the international fringes.

As far as I’m aware (and I’ve done some pretty thorough research), there’s never been more than a couple of thousand words written about CONIFA in one go. With in-depth interviews, the story of the tournament itself, extensive chats with the organisers and a glance at the history, you won’t read this story anywhere else. I’m writing it, though, because CONIFA has impressed me and enthralled me more with every little thing I’ve learnt. There’s simply so much to be said.

Pre Order

I expect my book to be ready in mid to late September. For now, I’m putting it up for pre-sale in both hard copy and digital format. This will be at a cheaper price than the launch price, in that I will include P+P on the face value of the hard copy, and reduce the launch cost of the digital copy. By buying a copy of the book now, rather than when it launches, you’ll be helping me to fund larger print runs of physical copies, offsetting some of the costs of attending the entire tournament in London, and giving me a good idea of demand.

As a thank you, I will include your name on a personal ‘thank you’ page of the book for helping to make this a reality. If you’d like me to sign it (and I can see no reason why you would, but I had a request!), I’ll do that, too.

Please find an update on the book’s progress as of mid-October here.

Pre-order a physical copy of ‘CONIFA: Football For The Forgotten’ for €10, including postage, click here (Paypal).

This will be dispatched before the books are put on general sale to the address you give one payment (please be careful to give the correct address, I cannot contact everyone to verify these). You will be amongst the first to see the finished book, and will be thanked in its pages.

Pre-order a digital copy of ‘CONIFA: Football For The Forgotten’ for €5, click here (Paypal).

This will be delivered by email in Kindle-friendly (and other e-reader) friendly PDF and ePub format on release day (I will send access to both as downloadable links). This link will be removed on release day. After release day, Kindle copies will be available on Amazon for ease of distribution, but as Amazon take close to 50% of the sales price, I’ll be avoiding them ahead of release date. You will be amongst the first to read the finished book, and be thanked in its pages.

You may request a refund at any time prior to publication, or if you’re not satisfied with the final product, by contacting me.