ÖSTERSUND, SWEDEN — The Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan (AFFA) has stated its protest to international soccer authorities over the first-ever Confederation of Independent Football Associations (ConIFA) World Cup of unrecognized states to feature a team from Nagorno-Karabakh, Azeri media report.

Letters of protest were also sent to the Swedish Football Federation where the championship will be held, as well as to FIFA.

In response to the Azerbaijani protest letter, ConIFA has stated, “The AFFA requested us to prevent the participation of Nagorno-Karabakh in our World Football Cup as the Republic of Azerbaijan claims the region Nagorno-Karabakh to be part of their country, which is supported by UN and the overwhelming majority of the political community.

In fact this is what ConIFA is all about: Giving unrepresented regions, people, minorities, nations and isolated territories the chance to represent them through football. Without judging on the political situation or the dependence or independence of Nagorno-Karabkah we will insist on our invitation, which we communicated to the AFFA in written form today.

The ConIFA World Football Cup and furthermore the ConIFA in general is about bridging the world and representing the unrepresented. It is a fact that Nagorno-Karabakh is self-controlled today and in particular, and this is one of the major facts for us, that the Artsakh Football Federation is neither a part of the AFFA nor any other FIFA member. This means that football in Nagorno-Karabakh is totally isolated from the world community and Nagorno-Karabakh players and clubs neither get the chance to enter any international matches nor play in international cups.

We think that people from each angle of the world should have the chance to play international football and to represent their culture! Thus we were left with no choice but declining the request of AFFA”.

Nagorno-Karabakh will be among the twelve teams participating in the first ever World Cup held for teams outside international soccer’s governing body, FIFA. The tournament to be held in Ostersund, in central Sweden, in the first week of June.

The tournament to be held in Ostersund, in central Sweden, in the first week of June will be hosted by the Sapmi people, also known as Laplanders. It is to be held under the aegis of CONIFA, a global umbrella organization for all the football teams outside FIFA.

There are more than 5500 etnicities around the world and hundreds of sportingly isolated regions that don’t have an international arena to play international football. CONIFA organizes the official World Championship for teams outside FIFA, Continental Championships, International tournament and Cups combined with Cultural Events and Youth Exchanges.

According to the organization’s official website, the 12 teams will include: Abkhazia, Aramean Suryoye, Kurdistan, Tamil Eelam, Zanzibar, Darfur United, Ellan Vannin, Quebec, Nagorno-Karabakh, Padania, Sapmi and Occitania. The tournament will take place from June 1 to 8.

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