7 reasons why CONIFA is better than FIFA
Brought to you by Paddy Power
We all love to have choices
Why have cold bread when you can have toast? Why toast when you can roast? Why have one slice when you can have two? You get where I'm going with this one.
In that spirit, the upcoming 2018 CONIFA World Football Cup offers those of you who are looking forward to this summer's FIFA World Cup - but are a bit jaded with the world of money, VAR and Vladimir Putin - with the opportunity to taste something a little different. To have a choice.
Rather than seeing the likes of Brazil, England, France and Argentina battle it out in expensive stadiums, CONIFA offers fans competition between smaller, 'non-existent' nations like Barawa, Cascadia and Western Armenia.
Non-existent, you ask? Well, of course these places exist. They are real places in the world that you can visit and smell. But crucially, they are not recognised by UEFA or FIFA and, as such, cannot take part in major tournaments.
1 - You don't have to watch David Guetta at the opening/closing ceremony
The FIFA World Cup is brilliant. You get to watch the world's best teams battle it out to see who out of either Germany or Spain will take home the big gold trophy. While we're sure that former FIFA president Jules Rimet would be proud to see the competition still going strong today, you can't help but feel that he never imagined that Euro dance boy David Guetta would one day become a significant part of the tournament's opening.
Thankfully, that's not an issue at CONIFA's flagship event, and what's more, they haven't even hired a David Guetta impersonator.
2 - England won't get knocked out, because they can't
We all know the feeling. You're excited about the upcoming FIFA World Cup, but you also know pain is coming. You've been hurt too many times before and, after so many broken hearts, you're afraid to believe because you fear your dreams being crushed into a million pieces once again. Probably during a penalty shootout.
Thankfully, with the CONIFA World Football Cup, you can watch the entire occasion safe in the knowledge that England cannot get knocked out for the simple reason that they're not competing in it. Instead, you can sit and watch pain and worry-free as Tibet misses a penalty, or as Cascadia's version of David Beckham kicks out at Tuvalu's equivalent to Diego Simeone. Win-win!
3 - Tibet's Buddhists are highly unlikely to start any hooligan trouble
Unfortunately, there always seems to be a few incidents of hooliganism at football tournaments such as the Euros and FIFA World Cup. As the eyes of the world are upon the tournament, men who should know better, end up having a few too many and taking to the streets to throw chairs, or whatever else, around.
However, that shouldn't be an issue for Tibet's Buddhists, who compete in the CONIFA World Football Cup, many of whom are bound to a peaceful existence and will - more than likely - simply enjoy being able to say the name of their country out loud without being reported to the police.
4 - It gives you the chance to find a new hipster team to support
We all know the feeling. You've discovered a new team in the German fourth division who have an absolutely cracking Hummel jersey, their own brewery and are not yet under the control of any capitalist pigs.
You're delighted, but then just as you place an order on those delicious threads, you check your mate's Instagram and of course, as usual, they've already got it.
The beauty of CONIFA is there are so many obscure places taking part in the tournament - whether it's Cascadia, Padania, Matabeleland or Barawa. It's unlikely that even your most hipster of football hipster friends will know about them. This will leave you with full reign over a host of stunningly rare and lovely jerseys.
5 - Despite having the word "CON" in its name, CONIFA have not been accused of financial impropriety
It's a funny one, this, but also a true one. CONIFA has the word "con" in its name, but has never been accused of financial impropriety, nor I assume, are they likely to be. Instead the "con" in CONIFA is short for Confederation, as in the Confederation of Independent Football Associations.
This differs quite a lot from FIFA who - despite not having "con" in its name - has actually been accused of financial impropriety on an extremely regular basis.
That is not to say that FIFA are guilty of financial impropriety, but it still means that you can watch the CONIFA World Football Cup with a clear conscience.
6 - Mark Clattenburg is back and he's packing a card the same colour as the pitch
Having moved from the Premier League to Saudi Arabia, Mark Clattenburg will make his return to international football at the CONIFA World Football Cup. In his top pocket he'll have not two cards but three: the red, the yellow and the green.
If you're wondering what the green card is for exactly, it lies between a yellow and red cards in severity, and means the recipient’s club has to replace them with a substitute. The effect of this is to foil two of the modern game's greatest issues, diving and dissent, both of which you will see plenty of at this year's FIFA World Cup.
7 - Impress your friends with your geography knowledge
Let's face it, most people don't even know where China is. Sure, they have a rough idea, but they would struggle to point it out on a map. As such, informing people of the existence of a place called Cascadia will no doubt impress your friends.
Add to that a little background information about the geopolitical issues surrounding each participant and you will immediately become the intellectual king within your friendship group.
For more information on the CONIFA World Football Cup visit Paddy Power.