WORLD > Iraqi Kurdish team beats North Cyprus, claiming 'unrecognized' world cup


The national team of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq beats Northern Cypriot national team in Arbil to claim the title at the 2012 Viva World Cup

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While all eyes in the football world are on the European Football Championships in Poland and Ukraine, a world cup silently found its new owner over the weekend.

The national team of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, which played under the name “Kurdistan,” beat Northern Cyprus, or Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) as it was named in the tournament, 2-1 late June 9 to claim the trophy at the fifth edition of VIVA World Cup.

The VIVA World Cup brings together football associations unaffiliated with world football’s governing
body FIFA, which does not accept the federations of countries that are not internationally recognized as members. The TRNC, established in 1983 following a Turkish military intervention on the island in 1974, is recognized only by Turkey, while “Kurdistan” has yet to declare independence from Iraq.

The participants of the 2012 VIVA World Cup also included “national teams” from Zanzibar, Darfur, Occitania and Provence.

The final game played in Franso Hariri Stadium in the northern Iraqi province of Arbil’s was more than just a football match, according to Arbil Governor Nawzad Hadi.

“The important thing is that the game is in Kurdistan,” Hadi told Rudaw news agency during the game’s halftime. “It’s the first time we’ve received international teams here. We are happy because we are part of Iraq, but at the same time you can see the football is going well, with the people, the security, and the media – you can see how Kurdistan has developed; it’s a normal place like everywhere else.”

Northern Cyprus on int’l stage

The tournament is also a rare opportunity for Northern Cyprus to be able to play at the international level.

“Football has no boundaries, football should not be political,” Turkish Consul General to Erbil Aydın Selcen, who also watched the final game, was quoted as saying by Rudaw. “[But] the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is denied the right to play any games outside their country; so it’s a good opportunity for them.”

That is precisely the idea behind the VIVA event, according to Christian Michels, President and Founding Member of the Nouvelle Federation Board, which organizes the biennial VIVA World Cup.

“VIVA is for nations, territories, peoples, islands – it’s open to all these territories which are not able to play in FIFA. [It’s driven by] passion, passion for football – to allow these people to play at the international level.”

Northern Iraq sees the tournament as an opportunity to cement its place in the football world. “This could be the first step towards achieving Kurdistan membership in FIFA,” Safin Kanebi, head of the Kurdistan Football Federation (KFF), told Rudaw.


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Notice on comments


6/12/2012 11:53:49 AM

"The tournament is also a rare opportunity for Northern Cyprus to be able to play at the international level" hahaha priceless. I've just had a quick look who's actually in this international tournament and found nations such as Dafur, Sahrawi and Zanzibar. But for some reason Nagorno Karabakh was not invited, I wonder why?

Brit in Turkey

6/11/2012 8:15:01 PM

@"Cyprus is Greek" - your call-sign epitomises all that is wrong with the Greek Cyprus attitude. Do you not understand that it was that attitude from the 50's onward that got Cyprus into the situation it is now in?


6/11/2012 7:15:14 PM

Congratulations with the silver medal Turkish North Cyprus, now VIVA soon they will be playing at the FIFA. Than Kazim Kazim, Billy Mehmet and Leon Osman will play for Northern Cyprus as well :D

Nuri Gotham

6/11/2012 5:22:27 PM

It is a true irony that the soccer teams of TRNC and Kurdistan play in a same leage while the words Kurds & Kurdistan are rarely uttered in Turkey.

kemal H

6/11/2012 10:53:44 AM

What happened to wishful thinking pie in the sky Greek hope of joining up with Kurdish fighter to attack Turkey from all fronts, looks like another big Greek idea bites the dust. I have a suggestion why not organize a match with Greece now that's a match I would fly around the globe to watch. A bag full of dosh by a Turkish sponsor would wet the Greek appetite come on Greece TRNC needs the game and you need the dosh. Let's play.

Peter Lambson

6/11/2012 8:34:47 AM

Isn't it the height of irony that "TRNC" played Kurdistan?

MR Somalia

6/11/2012 5:09:46 AM

I think the Turkish government was behind this. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Turkey supports both North Cyprus and North Iraq Kurdistan region. Turkey probably provided the funds to make such event, designed to promote the two separatist regions, possible. Turkey should support the unity of Iraq otherwise, Turkey is no different than Iran's regional interest. Kurds should not be excited, Turkey probably wants to swallow up both Kurdistan regions in the long run. 1 stone 2 birds.
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