Sweden gears up for VIVA World Cup
As Europe finally calms down after a month of football fever for Euro 2008, the small town of Gällivare is gearing up to host a smaller, but far more international football competition. The VIVA World Cup kicks off on July 7th, under the midnight sun.
What? Where? Two perfectly reasonable questions.
Gällivare is a small town in the far north of Sweden, or perhaps more accurately, in the heart of Samiland, the area inhabited by the nomadic Sami people, which covers parts of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia.
And the VIVA World Cup is the most important event in the footballing calendar for nations not recognized by football's governing body FIFA. Not being recognized by FIFA is not so uncommon, as the Nouvelles Federations Football Association currently has over 20 national teams that are not recognized as sovereign states, including Tibet, the Isle of Man and The Romani Nation.
This year’s hosts and defending champions are the Sami nation, the indigenous people of northern Scandinavia, who have suffered in varying degrees over several centuries at the hands of ‘colonial’ Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia.
In spite of the passion of its members, the Nouvelles Federation's board is not the wealthiest of organizations and due to the cost of travelling to northern Sweden this year’s event has only been able to attract five teams in the men’s competition. All teams will play each other in the group phase and the two highest ranking teams will meet in the final. The nations competing are: Sápmi (Samiland), Kurdistan, Provence, Padania and Suryoye (Assyria)
There is also a women’s competition, which does not have the problem of dealing with odd numbers, as only two teams are registered to compete: Samiland and Kurdistan.
Maria Wallgren from the Gällivare tourist office is excited about the competition. Although she can’t name any of the players who will be sauntering up and down the streets of her town next week she is sure that they will be made to feel welcome.
Maria has made sure that there’s also plenty for the WAGS (Wives and girlfriends) to do. While their FIFA counterparts sip on Cristal and decide whether to wear Gucci or Prada, the WAGS in Gällivare will have to decide which to do first: A trip to Aitik, one of Europe’s largest open cast copper mines or to journey deep underground into the heart of LKAB to see high tech ore mining in action.
Håkan Kuorak certainly fancies Samiland’s chances: “Padania are very good. They recently beat Tibet 13-2, but that’s OK. We beat Tibet 30-2”
Heh! My old home town is... well my old home town. Link