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ConIFA World Football Cup

Shocks, goals and worthy winners - CONIFA World Football Cup wrap up

12:29 BST 12/06/2018
There may be a feast of football taking place in Russia, but CONIFA certainly produced some memorable moments as Karpatalja tasted glory in London

The world's eyes may now be fixed solely on the World Cup in Russia, but fans from around the globe have already enjoyed a breathtaking feast of football this summer.

The CONIFA World Football Cup produced all manner of thrills and spills as 16 teams from unaffiliated states and regions battled it out for glory in stadiums dotted across London.

Around 2,500 people crammed into Enfield Town's Queen Elizabeth II Stadium to witness Karpatalja edge out Northern Cyprus in the final on Saturday, but their penalty shootout victory was certainly not the only memorable moment from the third edition of a tournament that celebrates the underdog.

2016 winners Abkhazia surprisingly failed to make it to the quarter-finals, while hotly-tipped Ellis Vannin exited during the opening stages of the tournament in rather controversial circumstances.

They pulled out of CONIFA despite having one more match to play after losing an appeal over the eligibility of Barawa's Mohamed Bettamer, who led the line as his side inflicted a 2-0 defeat on the Isle of Man outfit.

The quarter-finals saw a couple of drubbings as Northern Cyprus put eight past Barawa without reply, while Szekely Land ran out 4-0 winners over Western Armenia.

There were certainly no shortage of goals during the semi's; Northern Cyprus edged out Padania 3-2 in a classic in Carshalton, while recorded a 4-2 victory over Szekely Land before penalties became the order of the day.

Padania converted all of their spot-kicks to take third place over Szekely Land, and winners Karpatalja inched past Northern Cyprus with a 4-3 shootout win in the final.

Thousands watched on as Istvan Sandor's side achieved glory while representing a Hungarian minority in Carpathian Ruthenia, with crowds exceeding tournament organisers' initial expectations.

CONIFA certainly doesn't have the profile of the World Cup yet, but the organisation's president Per-Anders Blind is confident he and his colleagues will be able to continue making such remarkable progress.

"We are still in the early stage of an adventure that will last for many years," Blind said.

"CONIFA has grown from zero to representing 334 million people in five continents with four years; work done solely by heroes from all over the world who have contributed their volunteer skills and their spare time.

When CONIFA reaches financial stability, we would like to start a humanitarian foundation and create different programmes and projects to help and support people in need.

"Football is a tool for a higher purpose."