PoJ FC manager James Scott has helped arrange a four-team competition in Yorkshire for UK-based ConIFA members but admits it is highly unlikely the winner will actually accept the automatic qualification place afforded to them due to safety concerns.
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ConIFA – an independent football association for non-recognized states and minority groups around the world – are set to hold their fourth global tournament next year, but a shortage of willing hosts has resulted in it being awarded to Somaliland. Scott had hoped Tokyo or Seattle would be handed the tournament after showing early interest, but both withdrew.
The British Foreign Office warns against all but essential travel to two towns within the self-governed region of Somalia, and advises against all travel to any other part of the war-torn country.
‘If I’m being honest, I was disappointed when it was announced that Somaliland are going to host it,’ said Scott, who had hoped to enter another tournament in Germany this month before affiliation issues in Jersey scuppered those plans.
‘ConIFA are aware of our stance. We know they want to develop the game in small regions but the bottom line is we will not be able to take a squad there. I’m not going to go against the Foreign Office and what they suggest.
‘It will be a shame because the World Cup has been our main target.’
However, Scott said other options will be investigated for the summer of 2020.
‘It’s not 100% confirmed that it will be there yet, but if it is then we will have a “Plan B”,’ he said.
‘We were actually invited to a tournament in Valencia this year but we had already committed to Yorkshire, and the County of Nice have also been in constant contact.’
Scott plans to take his squad – which could include Macclesfield Town midfielder Peter Vincenti – to the ‘Atlantic Heritage Cup’ to face Kernow [Cornwall], Ellan Vannin [Isle of Man] and hosts Yorkshire from 31 May-2 June – two weeks before Jersey first XI manager Martin Cassidy takes his representative team to Ynys Mon for the 2019 Island Games replacement event. Scott said yesterday that the Heritage Cup will act as ‘good preparation’ for players involved in both sides, but concerns could soon be raised regarding burnout.
The Jersey FA are this week putting ‘final touches’ onto their own games programme for May, which includes a four-team ‘international’ tournament at Springfield. Cassidy’s squad also have the South East Counties final against the Army to play, plus a potential Muratti final against Guernsey, should the Caesareans beat Alderney in the semi-final.
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JFA chief executive Jean-Luc Desbois said: ‘It is highly likely that Jersey players will already have played five games in May, to potentially win three different cups. The idea for our Island head coach [Cassidy] was that players would then need a ten-day break before going to Ynys Mon.’
The JFA’s tournament is due to finish just four days before the ConIFA event begins.
ConIFA – run by volunteers and not affiliated to any official world football governing body – now has over 50 member associations on its register, including the likes of Greenland, Monaco, Northern Cyprus and Tibet.
By Jason Fox