“Of course we are controversial,” said the president, Per Anders Blind. “We are crazy underdogs.”
This year’s tournament, the third iteration, is being played in several smaller, older stadiums on the outskirts of London. Paddy Power, a British bookmaker, is the sponsor of the 2018 version, arguably a more appropriate backer than the one behind the 2016 tournament, the United Fishing Industrialists of Abkhazia.
Conifa now has about 47 members around the world, ranging from areas with fully functioning governments, like Iraqi Kurdistan, to those seeking to raise awareness of their political struggles, like the Roma and the Koreans of Japan. Delvidek (Hungarians in Serbia), Greenland, Barawa (in Somalia) and the Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine are all members. Cascadia is a proposed country that includes the Pacific Northwest in the United States and parts of Canada. Tamil Eelam is the Tamil-majority areas of Sri Lanka. Matabeleland is in Zimbabwe.
The first Conifa World Cup was held in the northern Swedish city of Ostersund, in 2014 — not far from where Mr. Blind’s family, who belong to Sweden’s indigenous Sami minority, herd their ancestral reindeer.