Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Viva World Cup 2012

The following story is also available at Play The Game

The fifth world cup for ‘national’ teams that are not members of FIFA will be held in Iraqi Kurdistan in 2012 with up to a dozen teams.

The fifth version of the Viva World Cup (VWC) was due to be held in 2011 but has been put back a year after the organizers, the NF Board, struck an agreement with the Island Games Association (IGA), which is being held will in the Isle of Wight the same year.

NF Board secretary general Jean Luc Kit said: “We decided to play the Viva World Cup every two years and when the Island Games will not be played in deal with the IGA. The IGA explained that they want to help us.”

The Island Games is a biennial mini-Olympiad for islands and the football tournament at the last tournament earlier this year in the Finnish island of Åland saw the biggest entry yet with 16 teams entering.

IGA chairman Jörgen Pettersson agreed the deal at last weekend’s NF Board general assembly in Paris, which was attended by more than 50 people. He said: “The differences [between the IGA and the NF Board] are pretty big. Our members are islands and well defined, the NF Board members are more of territories and often complicated to define. We will however do our best to help them in their work to provide competition for sportspeople. After all, that is what we all do.”

The NF Board has visited Kurdistan, which took part in the 2008 and 2009 VWC’s, and claims that the Kurdistan Football Association (KFA) has funding to host up to a dozen teams in 2012. For some cash-strapped IGA members, such as Greenland, the possibility of financial assistance to compete in Kurdistan could prove tempting – hence the deal in Pairs.

“We went [to Kurdistan] and all the people, all the media, and the main cities want to host this competition,” added Mr Kit. “The area is totally secure they will have money to host the 10 or 12 teams scheduled.”

Kurdistan has a three-tier league, including a 16-team top flight, and the 25,000 capacity Franso Hariri Stadium in Erbil, and KFA representatives were among the more than 50 people at the NF Board assembly.

“[The KFA] did a presentation of their region and surprised me a lot having thought about the region as dangerous and poor,” added Mr Pettersson. It is probably the other side around nowadays with two international airports and a Four Season Hotel under construction.”

The NF Board assembly also included representatives of football associations claiming to represent Corsica, the Casamance region of Senegal, Provence in France, Wallonia, the Padania region of northern Italy, which hosted the third VWC earlier this year.

The football association from the Maltese island of Gozo was also in Paris and will host the next VWC from May 25 to June 2010 at the Sannat and Gozo stadiums. Also in Paris were representatives of footballers from Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony that was occupied by Morocco in 1975.

“A delegation of three people came from the [refugee] camps in Algeria,” added Mr Kit. “They are very motivated, worked hard and re full of contacts. Western Sahara has two sets of players in Spain and the Canary Islands at a good level.”

Saturday, 5 December 2009

New FIFA deal for Kosovo

This story is also on Play The Game

A deal to ensure that Kosovan clubs are compensated properly when players sign for foreign sides should be rubber-stamped this Friday (December 4) at FIFA’s executive committee meeting in Cape Town, South Africa.

Last week, Football Association of Kosovo president Fadil Vokrri and general secretary Eroll Salihu traveled to Zurich to show FIFA documents that proved the FFK was a member of the old Yugoslavian association just like other states that broke away and secured independence, such as Croatia and Slovenia.
Having established this with FIFA, the FFK expect an international players’ certificate for Kosovan players to be agreed in Cape Town.

“For the past two decades Kosovar players have been taken or have moved about without any authorization whatsoever,” says Edmond Rugova, the former manager of the Kosovan national team and now chief executive of the country’s biggest club, FC Prishtina.

“If FIFA writes these certificates for Kosovar players into law then the players, the clubs and the FA's would be protected. Kosovar clubs will be able to demand signing on fees just like any other club, which so far hasn't been the case.”

At last week’s meeting in Zurich, the FFK also handed over to FIFA a list of players who have been signed by foreign clubs, who did not pay any fee to their Kosovan clubs.

Rugova explains: “Players have been taken from FC Prishtina and other clubs for nothing before. A few years ago FC Prishtina players like Armend Dallku and Debatik Curri who now play for FC Poltava [in the] Ukraine and represent Albania internationally were taken without authorization or compensation. That practice continues to this day, except FC Prishtina that has been able to put an end to it by demanding that the laws for player transfer are respected.”

Last year, FC Prishtina secured transfer fees for the first time when Swiss clubs FC Schaffhausen and Winterthur signed Visar Berisha and Shqipron Skeraj respectively but this was a one-off.

“FC Prishtina was compensated properly [and] is the only club in Kosovo that has been able to accomplish this,” says Rugova. “I believe FIFA's decision to take up on this issue and hopefully legitimize it is a step in the right direction before [the FFK] becomes a full member of FIFA and UEFA.”

Greater political recognition is needed before that can be secured but the FFK has already sealed a deal to take advantage of the lucrative commercial opportunities that will come with full membership and the international fixtures in the World Cup and European championship qualifying rounds that come with that.

The FFK has signed a strategic alliance with the Swiss-based Kentaro Group, who will market TV, media and sponsorship rights for Kosovan football in return for helping the FFK develop a more professional structure.

“As soon as Kosovo is recognised by the European Union and the United Nations as an independent state, there will no longer be any obstacle to it becoming a member of FIFA and UEFA,” said FFK president Fadil Vokkri. “Together with Kentaro, we will establish Kosovan football.”