Total Football! #WFC2018

You know what’ll make me post about futbol on social media? A self-governing island British Crown dependency playing a sometime-secessionist North American hipster bioregion.

May 31: HALF TIME at the Cascadia v Ellan Vannin World Cup Match (Group A) match, kicking off the Confederation of Independent Football Associations #WFC2018 and the once-every-few-years season when I’m interested in the beautiful game.

Also happening: Abkhazia vs Tibet, Western Armenia vs United Koreans in Japan, and Szekely Land vs Tuvalu.

June 2: The Cascadia v Barawa World Cup Match (Gourp A) is about to start. You might have heard by now how Cascadia is the ecosophical invention of bioregionalists keeping association football weird in the N. American Pacific NW — but who are Barawa?

They’re a team of diaspora Somalis representing an ethnic minority with “Arab, Persian, Pakistani, Portuguese and Somali ancestors who came as early migrant settlers to the Somali coastline” (Somalia: The Untold Story). Though the Confederation of Independent Football Associations #WFC2018 is happening in London, this mixed multitude from a port town on the Horn of Africa is the official host of the tournament.

Masha’Allah, “place is multilocal and multivocal” (Aucoin, 2017).

June 3: After yesterday’s match with Barawa Football Association ending in Cascadia Association Football Federation‘s first ever international win as a team flying the Douglas flag — as well as their first ever red card for a post-whistle brawl — now’s a good time as any to consider CONIFA’s rougher edges.

Tamil Eelam is separatist movement you may have heard about through MIA and the Tamil Tigers. It’s a northern littoral region that was a de facto state within the state of Sri Lanka until very recently. The Tamil Eelam football team represents the whole Tamil-speaking diaspora, but the name itself reflects this militant nationalist construct, as declared by the Tamil United Liberation Front in 1976, and espoused today by the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam.

But, “to speak of Tamil nationalism in the singular is to neglect the existence of two distinct Tamil nationalisms in the post-colonial period…Among the Tamils, ethnonationalist political mobilization revolved around a defensive Tamil nationalist ideology that was construed around the notion of a national unity of all Tamil-speaking people, the interlinked notion of a traditional Tamil homeland and claims regarding actual and potential Sinhalese national oppression of the Tamil nation and colonization of the Tamil homeland…While Sinhalese nationalist mobilization targeted the rural lower middle classes, Tamil nationalism sought to mobilize middle class constituencies within which a significant portion sought to achieve public sector employment through higher education. The prime issue that triggered Tamil nationalism was the question of official language.

…Militant Tamil separatist nationalism emerged from a quite different economic, social, and political context…the Sri Lankan economy entered into a deep economic crisis with extremely high levels of unemployment, especially among educated middle class and lower middle class youth…Access to public sector positions became a question of political connections rather than educational attainment within a system marked by political patronage…This provided the immediate structural basis for the emergence of militant youth groups from the subordinate classes within both the Sinhalese and Tamil class alliances in the early 1970s…The response from the Tamil political elite to this challenge from below was to radicalize their nationalist political demands.” (Stokke and Ryntveit, 2000: 296)

It’s also interesting to read about how “Tamil consciousness” first emerged during the British colonial period, encouraged by the efforts of Christian missionary movements who wanted to protect and promote the Tamil language. This led to a Hindu revivalist reaction among Tamils.

“Whoa…Oh…Oh…Hey…Hey…Hey… When it’s us versus them, you can always count on me.” Cascadia v Tamil Elam World Cup Match (Group A) is today at 4pm BST.

June 5: With brute force and determination hitherto unknown outside of Lebanese schools just before official exams week, Cascadia Association Football Federation beat the odds and qualified for the Confederation of Independent Football Associations #WFC2018 Quarter Finals, after a withering 6-0 win against Tamileelam F.A. — a win that just happened to also knock out the very team that defeated them in their tournament debut. Ellan Vannin International Football Team are not happy about how this all went down, and has chosen to withdraw from the tournament and not compete for lower bracket placement.

No matter. Today, the Dougies play against Kárpátaljai Magyar Labdarúgó Válogatott Egyesület, representing the Hungarian-speaking people of Ukraine. This ethnic group is concentrated in modern-day Zakarpattia Oblast, a region historically known by many names — like Carpathian Ruthenia, Carpathia-Ukraina, etc. — after changing hands, declaring independence, and getting annexed again and again.

Interestingly, Karpatalya only made it into the tournament because Felvidéki Labdarúgó Egyesület, the other Hungarian-speaking minority (in Southern Slovakia) couldn’t get organized in time. And look at them now!

Kick-off is in one hour.

June 7: It’s half-time over at Cascadia Association Football Federation‘s placement match against Football Federation of Western Armenia, a lower-bracket consolation after both teams fizzled out in the Quarter Finals. I would have relished seeing Western Armenia face-off against Kıbrıs Türk Futbol Federasyonu (Northen Cyprus), for very obvious post-Ottoman reasons. But given how hotheaded the Armenian coach has been, getting himself kicked out the field of play in their last match, that confrontation was probably best avoided.

Instead, Northern Cyprus will play the other bad boys of the north, Italy’s Padania Football Association.

Last weekend, an Italian in Lebanon joked about the FIFA World Cup (“What World Cup? We didn’t qualify, so it might as well not exist”), and I mentioned how he could be watching Confederation of Independent Football Associations#WFC2018 instead. “They are racists,” he spat, referring to the region from which the Lega Nord hails. “I would never put ‘Padania’ in the same category as Western Sahara, for example.”

CONIFA says it’s not about politics, but it really cannot not be.

The other Semi-Final tonight will be Pan-Hungarian: Kárpátaljai Magyar Labdarúgó Válogatott Egyesület (Ukraine) vs Székelyföld LE (Romania).

June 8: “We are conductors of sound, heat and energy. And I bet that you thought you had us figured out from the start.” With two steps forward, one step back, Cascadia Association Football Federation just conceded 5th place at the Confederation of Independent Football Associations #WFC2018 to Panjab FA, who claim to be “aligned to Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, the King and Ruler of Panjab and Sarkar-e-Khalsa between 1799-1849.” 4-3, in penalties — not a bad way to end this ride!

Culture. Heritage. Identity. Tonight’s big match is, of course, the World Football Cup Finals: Northern Cyprus vs Karpatalya. And next week, the FIFA World Cup!

“Those who find discomfort in your goals of liberation will be issued no apology.”

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