Do YIFA Have The Steel To Rule The World*
There are were many topics for consideration this week I almost felt spoilt for choice.
I quickly discounted the World Cup draw because it felt like it was the most boring one ever. No machines broke down, the draw didn’t get messed up and FIFA hadn’t had any arrests or scandals in the preceding week. Nothing to see here. Move along.
The FA Cup draw was better but only just. There were so many same-division ties it will feel like another round of league games in the first week of January, only with weakened teams.
Then, and it looked obvious, step forward Mr Mark Clattenburg, ex-Premier League referee and his egotistical comments about his refereeing of the Chelsea v Spurs match in the year Leicester City won the title (aka known as the year the ‘big six’ have erased from their memory).
According to Clattenburg, if you haven’t seen it, he could have sent three Spurs players off but chose not to, as to not get blamed for ‘losing the league for Spurs’. He instead chose to let them ‘self-destruct’ and lose it themselves. Initially, he’d hoped to head the winner for Leicester in their game against West ham but the fixtures just didn’t pan out that way.
To write a more balanced article, I tried to contact Mr Clattenburg but he was refereeing the match between Al-Hilal FC and Al-Fateh Fc in the Saudi Arabian league and couldn’t take my call; as he was clean-through on goal with only the keeper to beat.
And believe me, Spurs don’t need his or anyone else’s help when it comes to self-destructing and losing the title, anyway.
Besides, there was only one direction this week’s piece could go after reading this little beauty about the aspirations of YIFA. I’ll explain as I go.
In the recent vote or non-vote for Catalonian independence in Spain there were questions raised about where the Catalonian teams (let’s face it, it was only Barcelona they cared about but still) would play if the region was no longer part of Spain.
Now, in a slightly less politically-baiting move, the UK has its own version but this time, it’s purely for footballing reasons.
Yorkshire wants to launch its own ‘international’ team and play in the World Football Cup (see what they did there?) for ‘countries’ that aren’t recognised or allowed membership of FIFA for one reason or another such as Greenland, Zanzibar, Tibet and Darfur.
It’s called a global sub-strata but it’s basically a group that will never qualify for a World Cup (if they were allowed) even if Gianni Infantino expanded the competition in future to a couple of hundred teams. Speculation that Scotland are currently looking into the rules around qualification criteria is, as yet, unsubstantiated.
Of course, there are some fairly high barriers to negotiate before even getting into this non-FIFA affiliated group can happen, as God’s Own Country doesn’t meet the criteria set out for this competition – the biggest being that’s it’s neither a country nor an unrecognised state or region.
But it’s not impossible and the noises from CONIFA (the body who run the World Football Cup) are encouraging. So, to begin preparations for their inaugural game versus the might of The Isle of Man in January, they are holding trials at Hemsworth Miners Welfare FC.
Maybe, if all goes well, in in future England could provide friendly opposition – although let’s see how they get on against Panama first.
At this moment, the Yorkshire International Football Association (that’s YIFA – see what they…I’m not even going to bother) only want players born in Yorkshire, naturally, although like English cricket and rugby, as well as British tennis, they may begin to eventually look further afield if things don’t go to plan.
But we aren’t going to see Kyle Walker at wing back, and Jamie Vardy up front alongside a bloke who works in body repair shop in Bridlington any time soon.
It’s more feasible that locally born players from the non-league pyramid will be the players for now. However, YIFA do say they’ll ‘happily look at Lionel Messi if his mother was born in Barnsley’ although, phrased like that, it sounds messy enough as it is.
So, where could this lead?
YIFA’s ultimate goal is to win this unofficial World Cup, provided they get clearance and qualify. It’s already too late for the next one, being hosted in London (they knew they’d get a World Cup here somehow) in 2018 and featuring 16 sides from five continents.
It already sounds a bit more interesting than the official one and maybe England should consider going for that one instead. Indeed, given FIFA’s liking for expanding the number of teams, why don’t CONIFA follow suit and add four more teams to next year’s tournament. I hear that Italy, USA, Chile and The Netherlands are going to be hanging around local 4G pitches waiting to be asked to join in a kick-about for most of the early part of next summer.
But could Yorkshire win it if they did get invited?
It’s not so far-fetched. Before FIFA nicked football off The FA and made a World Cup that began in 1930, there was one in 1909 in Torino, Italy and was won by the representatives for Great Britain, none other than West Auckland FC from County Durham.
They had ‘Minder’ Dennis Waterman as captain and everything.
But it also raises the question (or maybe it doesn’t) of how well a cricket-style county side approach would work in football.
Imagine how strong Lancashire would be right now. And what about Pep and Jose arguing about who was going to be manager? Unless they shared it, but then imagine the rows they’d have about whether to attack or park the bus.
On the other hand, how weak would some of the others be in opposition? And how chaotic would the counties that cover London and the surrounding area be?
Imagine the discussions all over the land about what stadia in the county they should play in, and the quandary that southern folk would be in about whether to watch their own county or say they support Lancashire.
Yorkshire would actually be an interesting case study as nearly all of its teams are currently in the Championship so they’d need a big step up in quality to be the best county in England, never mind the unofficial world.
Unless the ‘have to be born there’ rule applied to the league as well as international competition. Then all bets are off because, as we know, anything is possible.
Just ask that former steel worker who played for Stocksbridge.
* sort of