FIFA or not FIFA, that is the Question


While the government is busy beating up the opposition, occupied Abkhazia is hosting the football World Championship of “unrecognized” countries. Agency Apsni Press writes of the triumphal start of the Abkhazian team, which defeated the team from Chagos, India 9:0. The new “world” champions will be revealed on June 5th at the Dinamo Stadium in Sukhumi.

Twelve teams are participating in the championship in Sokhumi: Somalia (Somalia), Abkhazia (Georgia), Padania (Italy), Raetia (Germany), Chagos Islands (India), Kurdistan (Iraq), Punjabi (Great Britain), United Korea (Japan), North Cyprus (Cyprus), United Gypsies (European Council), Sami (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia), and West Armenia (Armenia). The week of tournaments between unrecognized football federations was organized for the first time in 2014 when it was hosted by Sweden. In 2014, the national team of Catalonia also planned to participate, but withdrew at the last moment. The 2014 winner was a team from Nice (France), which played in the finals against Ellan Vannin (Great Britain) and defeated the rivals in a series of penalties 5:3. The South Ossetian team came in at fourth place in 2014.

Official FIFA representatives apparently visited the tournament, where they held a press conference. Swedish Dag Larsen and Russian Sergey Azizov are said to be highly satisfied with the work of their Abkhazian colleagues and say that they are ready to mediate in order to help the so-called “Abkhazian Football Federation” join FIFA. “Abkhazia is a decent country, which can represent FIFA, as it has its own land, government and language. Apart from this is the quality of football; people love playing football here, therefore we will begin negotiations with FIFA,” Azizov allegedly said during the press conference.

Naturally, Tbilisi reacted to this statement and the ongoing tournament in Sokhumi, with the Georgian Football Federation (GFF) denying that occupied Abkhazia would join FIFA in any form. General Secretary David Mujiri did not confirm the presence of either Azizov or Larsen as representatives of FIFA. “They are ordinary agents registered in FIFA and have nothing in common with Official FIFA,” Mujiri told journalists in Tbilisi. This reasonable answer from the GFF was followed by an amazing comment from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, which gave a much bigger meaning to the championship held in Sokhumi. At first glance, one can wonder just what is so remarkable about the Somaliland and Western Armenian teams visiting Sokhumi to play football? Nothing much. But the catastrophic lack of professionalism of our government is striking. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mikheil Janelidze, announced: “This championship has no legitimacy.” First of all, why should a top diplomat of the country make any comments about such a petty event? Secondly, this is an unrecognized sports tournament of confederations (there are millions of such championships across the world) and nobody protests them.

To the journalist’s question, any professional diplomat would have answered: “Which championship? No comment.” Nevertheless, this was not a big surprise from the Georgian Dream government. Notably, a similar football tournament was held last year, the “unrecognized” European Championship hosted by Budapest. Occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia teams planned to participate, but both had their visas rejected by the government of Hungary.

Zaza Jgarkava

02 June 2016 20:10