June 21, 2018
“Cascadia” Team Competes in Alternative World Cup

By AMI Newswire Reports

The FIFA World Cup began this month Russia but another World Cup ended earlier this month with Kárpátalja defeating Northern Cyprus 3-2 in the final match of the 2018 CONIFA World Cup.

In case your geography is rusty neither Northern Cyprus or Kárpátalja – the Hungarian speaking region of Slovakia – is officially recognized as a state by the United Nations. Neither is Barwa, a war-torn region of Somalia, which is perhaps why despite being the nominal host of the tournament all the CONIFA 2018 matches were played in London.

The Confederation of Independent Football Associations was founded in 2013 to organize international competition amongst non-FIFA affiliated “national” teams. CONIFA is a home for soccer-obsessed but, unrecognized nation states and a few internationally recognized small states such as Monaco.

The organization is based in Sweden and headed by Norwegian Per-Anders Blind. CONIFA includes 48 members of which 16 participated in the World Cup.

The independence of some members is only recognized by a handful of states. Northern Cyprus, for example, is only recognized by Turkey – occupying a northeast part of the island of Cyprus, it is officially known as Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Others have de facto but, not de jure control of their territory (Kurdistan). A few are formerly independent states such as Zanzibar which was incorporated into Tanzania in 1964, and Tibet, which was forcefully annexed by China in 1950.

Such “nations” and their soccer aspirations remain unrecognized by FIFA.

The government of Cyprus and Sri Lanka protested the participation of Northern Cyprus and the Tamil Elaam teams in the tournament.

“Its been reported that the Chinese government protested the inclusion of the Tibetan team but, that’s not true,” said a CONIFA official who spoke to the American Media Institute.

Only two “nations” from North America are members in CONIFA – Quebec and Cascadia.

One team from the United States contested the tournament representing “Cascadia” a bioregion that includes British Columbia, the State of Washington and much of Oregon save its deserts in the Southwest.

“Cascadia is based on inclusivity, diversity and protecting the environment,” says Brandon Letsinger who helped found the team and is a director of the Cascadia Underground, an advocacy group.

“This is about giving back to a region that played an important part of his life and a chance to play some meaningful football,” says James Riley, the team captain of the Cascadia “National Team” and a former standout with the Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer.

For some on the Cascadian team the idea is merely that the region has a unique ecology and tradition. Letsinger however, says he hopes that Seattle will host the next edition of the CONIFA tournament in 2020.

While the vision of Cascadia as an independent state dates back to the 1970s, the region has long attracted secessionist minded. Thomas Jefferson wrote of “Pacific Republic” with Fort Astoria “as the germ of a great, free, and independent empire on that side of our continent.”

Much later Vancouver Island was proposed as the location for a colony called Nootka by early Mormon leaders. The Civil War ended most secessionist sentiment in the region though following World War II there was a brief movement to combine Southern Oregon and Northern California into a new state to be named Jefferson.

Cascadian activists admit that independence is a long-shot but Letsinger is one of those who supports independence.

It is a cause that some American conservatives might support as it would remove 15 reliably Democratic votes from the electoral college. Since 1945 the two state have voted together in presidential elections with only two exceptions. In 1948, Washington backed the winner when it voted to re-elect President Truman and in 1968 when Richard Nixon won Oregon.

The two states combined electoral votes have gone to Democrats in every presidential election since 1984.

Photo: A proposed flag for Cascadia via Wikipedia.

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