IBWM is across all the football this summer, including the VIVA World Cup

The 5th VIVA World Cup, arranged by the non-FIFA governing body the N.F.-Board, is set to be the biggest and most competitive yet when it kicks off on June 5th in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Kurds, losing finalists at the previous 2 tournaments, will host the competition for sides that for whatever reason are not accepted by FIFA and the local government has generously covered all accommodation expenses. Padania have won the last 3 events but will not compete this summer and as a result the opportunity to lift the Nelson Mandela trophy has been thrown wide open. The hosts will be hoping more than any to capitalise but established non-FIFA sides Zanzibar and North Cyprus, who will both make their 1st VIVA appearance, will be sure to run the Kurds close.

Regular competitors Occitania are fast improving, and the number of sides making their international debuts this summer means there could be some real dark-horses; in particular the African duo of Darfur and Western Sahara. Tibet and Monaco were just 2 of the sides who could not make the trip so the unknown quantity of Tamil Eelam and N.F.-Board new boys Raetia will be hoping to upset the odds, along with an upward Provence team. Catalonia and Kosovo could also not send squads and a number of previous VIVA participants will be missing alongside Padania, including Sapmi, Gozo and 2008 runners-up Aramean Suryoye.

The matches will kick off at 7:00 and 9:00pm each evening with the group stages being held in Duhok and Sulaymaniyah. The Kurdish capital Erbil will host the semi-finals, placement games and final.

Here’s a look at each competing team:


Continent: Asia. Manager: Abdullah Mahmud. Colours: White shirts with blue trim/white shorts/white socks. Best previous VIVA performance: Runners up in 2009 and 2010.

Having lost the previous 2 finals the hosts will be desperate to go one further on home soil, and there is little evidence to suggest they can’t. Already a strong VIVA side Kurdistan will be boosted by the inclusion of more experienced players in their squad than in previous tournaments, though manager Abdullah Mahmud’s appointment did not go down well with all. The Kurds will take great experience from their recent participation in the Al-Nakba tournament in Palestine which saw them compete with full FIFA members for the first time. The team topped a group containing two FIFA members with Krzan Abdullah bagging most of the goals. Paired with Erbil forward Shwan Mamu means the hosts have goals in them.


Continent: Europe. Manager: Didier Amiel. Colours: Orange & yellow shirts/orange shorts/orange socks. Best previous VIVA performance: 3rd-place in 2006 & 2010.

Occitania have been steadily progressing since their international debut in 2003 and will be down as contenders for the trophy, with several semi-professional players from the CFA (4th tier) in France making the squad. The team representing the language of Oc, which all players must speak, capped off their climb up the non-FIFA ladder with a 3-2 victory over Sapmi in March, a team who beat them 7-0 at the 2006 VIVA. US Le Pontent defender Renaud Thomas and will be important to a side whose midfielder Boris Masaare stated ‘we want to be in the final’. With other tournaments to compete in this summer the squad will not be at its strongest, with some players drawn from 6th level French clubs.


Continent: Europe. Manager: Philippe Burgio. Colours: Blue shirts/blue shorts/white socks. Best previous VIVA performance: 4th in 2009.

The team from the south of France will be appearing in their 4th VIVA in a row, hoping to build on two last place finishes in 2008 and 2010. Despite a surprise 3rd-place playoff loss in 2009 Provence have otherwise proved one of the weaker VIVA sides but this may change in Kurdistan as former Valenciennes defender Philippe Burgio has recently taken over the reins. He has undertaken a squad overhaul and their most recent side featured no players who have appeared at the finals before, with most having played under Burgio whilst he was coach at Marseille’s youth team. The squad level ranges from the French 4th to 7th tiers, and midfielder Gaétan D'Acunto of Israeli side Hapoel Ra'anana could be a prominent figure.


Continent: Africa. Manager: Mark Hodson. Colours: Green shirts/green shorts/white socks.  Best previous VIVA performance: none (debut).

The Dafuri team will arrive in Kurdistan thanks to a tremendous effort by U.S. charity i-ACT who created a side from the 12 Darfur refugee camps in Chad, narrowing a shortlist of 61 players down to a squad of 15. Manhattan coach Mark Hodson has been installed as manager of a team who could well be dark-horses this summer, with the side having trained together for the past 3 months. Hodson said of the trials for the Darfur team, ‘The level of talent was impressive, especially considering the facilities and resources available to the players’. 20-year old Musa Sulieman will be important in midfield but Darfur’s main threat could be from the dangerous strike duo of Mubarak Duogom and the lively Nouradin Mussa.


Continent: Africa. Manager: Hemed Suleiman. Colours: Blue shirts/blue shorts/blue socks. Best previous VIVA performance: none (debut).

The African side will go into the tournament as arguable favourites, with a wealth of international experience in their ranks. The Zanazibaris compete in the CECAFA cup alongside established FIFA sides and have even won the tournament once, as well as reaching the last four on six occasions. 28-year old defender Aggrey Morris plays with Abdi Kassim on the Tanzanian mainland with Azam F.C. and the islanders will be looking to captain Nadir Haroub, a full Tanzania international at domestic giants Young Africans, for experience. Young prospect Ali Badru will be expected to get the goals for Zanzibar and ZFA general secretary Masoud Attai has confidently laid out his sides aims ‘we hope to do well – we are preparing to take the trophy’.


Continent: Europe. Manager: Ursin Caviezel. Colours: White & black striped shirts/black shorts/black socks. Best previous VIVA performance: none (debut).

The Rhaetians of Switzerland are relative newcomers to the non-FIFA scene having been founded in August 2011. The amateur team representing the ancient Roman province quickly set about making their debut and were comfortably beaten 6-1 by the Chagos Islands last December. The side then travelled to Gozo in January where they were on the wrong end of a 17-1 thumping but Raetia F.A. president Yacine Azzouz said on his team’s preparations ‘we have a completely new team [and are] much stronger’. The Rhaetians have quickly set about bringing in a different goalkeeper, Patric Theus, and will be looking to midfielder Fabio Pocas Martins, who scored against Gozo, for inspiration in what could be a tough debut VIVA for the amateur side. 

North Cyprus

Continent: Europe. Manager: Firat Canova. Colours: White shirt/white shorts/white socks. Best previous VIVA performance: none (debut).

It was only a few years ago when North Cyprus were considered kings of the non-FIFA world as they stormed to both the ELF Cup and WILD Cup titles in 2006. However when a 2-1 defeat in Zanzibar ended their 10 game unbeaten run in 2007 the North Cypriots seemed to just stop, and their appearance at the VIVA will represent their 1st internationals in 5 years. Despite their self-imposed exile they will be one of the favourites for the title with their rock-solid defence still intact, including WILD Cup ‘keeper of the tournament Hasan Piro and full-back Serhan Önet. The squad is entirely selected from the North Cyprus league and goal-scoring midfielder Hamis Çakır will be a threat along with experienced striker Huseyin Kayalilar.

Western Sahara

Continent: Africa. Manager: Ahmedbaba Haiai. Colours: Green & black shirts/red shorts/white socks. Best previous VIVA performance: none (debut).

Western Sahara are another candidate for the dark-horse tag in a tournament which will mark their international debut. A Spanish-based side lost 2-1 to a Galicia XI last December but this team is drawn from players living in the disputed territory, led by captain Abdelahe Abidin. The other competing sides will not know what to expect from the Africans, members of the N.F.-Board since 2003, who have been training for the finals for two months. They could well feature at the business end of the tournament with exciting players such as Selma Iarba, Said Mohamed Saleh and the industrious Mahfud Ualad Abdi all capable of giving their VIVA opposition a headache. However, a lack of experience of playing together could prove a stumbling block.

Tamil Eelam

Manager: Ragesh Nambiar. Colours: red & yellow shirts /red shorts/red socks. Best previous VIVA performance: none (debut).

Tamil Eelam are something of an unknown quantity going into the finals where they will play internationals for the first time. The newly formed FA was created as a project by the Global Tamil Youth league and the squad draws its players from their diaspora in countries such as Canada, Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom. TFA worker Janarthan Sadacharalingam said of his association ‘it strives to have the best youth footballers for a team to play at a national level’. Players such as Mahy Nambiar and Coker College defender Arun Vigneswararajah are a mix of semi-professional and amateur and some compete in Tamil leagues in the countries mentioned. Potential outsiders, Tamil Eelam could find it tough going amongst some strong opponents.

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