The politics of ConIFA: Organising and managing international football events for unrecognised countries

Rookwood, Joel orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-6510-4519 (2020) The politics of ConIFA: Organising and managing international football events for unrecognised countries. Managing Sport and Leisure, 25 (1-2). pp. 6-20. ISSN 2375-0472

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Rationale: This paper examines the development, politics and impact of the Confederation of Independent Football Associations (ConIFA), which organises alternative “international” competitions for “countries” not recognised by football’s established governing bodies.

Approach: Three case studies are focused upon here: the 2016 World Football Cup held in Abkhazia, the 2017 European Football Cup hosted by Northern Cyprus and the 2018 World Football Cup staged in England. Semi-structured interviews were conducted at each event with senior ConIFA personnel, competing team staff and players as well as supporters, journalists, filmmakers and photographers covering the various competitions.

Findings: The paper reveals important logistical, managerial, political and security reflections and concerns relating to the respective tournaments. It also critiques the challenges facing ConIFA in hosting such events, often in fractured and disputed locations.

Practical implications: The work offers important findings pertaining to the politics, role and impact of ConIFA. These are to be shared with the organisation and its members in order to shape subsequent practice.

Research contribution: Focusing on a significantly under-researched strand of sport event scholarship, and with unique access to high ranking personnel, the work examines and critiques the politics and impact of three football tournaments and the role of ConIFA in wider mega-event contexts.

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