Six teams have entered the third Viva World Cup (VWC) to be staged in northern Italy next month for ‘national’ football sides shunned by FIFA
Padania – a team promoted by the Italian separatist political movement Lega Nord – are hosting the event, which will be staged between June 22 and June 27 in Brescia, Varese and Verona.
The hosts, Kurdistan and a team representing the Occitan-speaking people of southern France will play each other in group one.
In group two, the Sapmi tribe of northern Scandinavia – more commonly known as the Lapps – will take on the French region of Provence and the Maltese island of Gozo.
Two teams from each group will qualify for the semi-finals with the final to be held in the Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi in Verona on June 27 at 5.00pm.
Although up to 15 teams expressed interest in taking part to the organisers, the New Federation (NF) Board, the number of entries for the third VWC is still an improvement on the first two events.
The breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) are understood to be sitting out the event because the Kurds – mostly from Iraqi Kurdistan – are playing and Turkey has long-standing political problems with the Kurds.
Gozo, who will host the fourth VWC next year, make their debut but the other five teams have all played in previous events.
The first VWC hosted by Occitania in 2006 was blighted by withdrawals after the TRNC fell out with the NF Board and staged their own rival eight team event, paying travel expenses for the visiting teams.
Only three teams went to Occitania with the Sapmi beating Monaco 21-1 in the final.
Last year’s second event was far closer and five teams travelled to Gällivare Swedish Samiland with Padania beating a team representing the Aramean Suryoye minority group from Sweden 2-0 in the final.