The Kurdistan national team playing in the Conifa World Football Cup 2016 in Abkhazia. Photo: Kurdistan Football Association
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - In its first match in the Conifa World Football Cup, the tournament for unrecognized states, the Kurdistan National Team made major headway by beating the Szekely national team.
The Kurdistan National team took on Szekely Land on Sunday and won the match 3-0.
The Kurdish team dominated the field and striker Farhang Wriya scored the first goal of the match at the 34th minute.
In the second half, the Kurdish team performed as well as the first, with striker Farhan Shukr and midfielder Hunar Ahmed scoring two more goals at the 55th and 77th minutes, respectively.
Safin Kanabi, president of the Kurdistan Football Union, said at a press conference after the victory that he was happy with how the national team performed versus Szekely in their first match of the tournament.
In comments to Rudaw, Khasraw Gul, Kurdistan National Team's coach, expressed his joy, saying his men played a great match and "this victory is for our Peshmerga brothers and the people of Kurdistan."
Conifa represents millions of people around the world who are passionate about football but do not feel represented by any of the 209 teams that are members of FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), which are selected on the basis of membership in the United Nations.
The teams playing in this year’s World Football Cup are a mix of unrecognized states, stateless peoples, disputed territories, and distinct cultural regions. “[A]ll of them play the beautiful game and use it to get together and keep their culture, history and community alive,” said Conifa on their website.
Only twelve teams are taking part this year. Some are not able to attend because of financial or logistic problems and some because of the difficulties attending the tournament in the host region of Abkhazia, a state that declared independence from Georgia in 1990. It is recognized by just a handful of nations, including Russia and Venezuela. Many governments advise against travel to Abkhazia.
The first World Football Cup was played in 2014 in Östersund, Sweden and saw County of Nice, a unique cultural region in southern France, take home the championship trophy.
Kurdistan is ranked 5th out of 23 Conifa members and will next play Koreans in Japan on Tuesday.