Yorkshire in a World Cup? Why not?

Let’s face it, when it comes to sport, there’s nothing that we like better in the Broad Acres; throw in some decent beer and some proper food, and well, that’s us all happy.

Cricket has, for more years than we can remember, been the biggest county level sport in Yorkshire with rugby (both codes) not far behind.

Back in early December, news filtered out that there might be some competition from us who love the round ball game.

The Yorkshire International Football Association announced open trials to form the first Yorkshire county football team, with an aim to take part in the Confederation of Independent Football Associations World Cup.

“You what?” I hear you say.  Stop laughing at the back there…

ConIFA is made up of those states, regions, minorities and territories not eligible to be part of FIFA, like Greenland, Zanzibar and Tibet. All proud peoples and in many ways, the Yorkshire team should fit right in!

In early January, the YIFA presented a great case for inclusion to CONIFA, and the members of the organisation voted unanimously to admit YIFA, meaning they will be able to be part of a world-wide organisation and be up for qualifying for ConIFA’s showpiece events.

Unfortunately, the Vikings (as they were nicknamed) were too late in joining CONIFA to take part in this years tournament, which is being held around London in May this year, but given the strength of Yorkshire football, it’s a very fair chance they would do the county proud indeed.

YIFA chairman Phil Heggarty fully expects the squad members to represent the county with pride and act like ambassadors for the county, “We don’t want people diving on the floor and shouting at the referee. In our constitution, that would be a disciplinary offence.”, he told the BBC back in December.

Those selected to the squad would have to be born within Yorkshire, meaning theoretically Jamie Vardy and Kyle Walker from the Premier League would be eligible.

However, it was always envisioned that the players would be drawn from National League and lower and given the number of sides in the top few divisions of the non-league game such as Guiseley, NFU, York City, Harrogate Town and Bradford PA, the founders were sure the squad would be a match for any of the teams mentioned earlier.

So it proved in their first match.

Played on January 28th, the Vikings came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw against their much more experienced opponents from Ellan Vannin (Isle of Man), thanks to a goal from Jordan Coduri of Penistone Church FC in the 52nd minute.

The Manxmen are one of the stronger teams in ConIFA and are ranked 4th in the ConIFA World rankings, behind the likes of Panjab, Padania (Northern Italy) and Northern Cyprus, meaning this was a positive result.

Next stop for the Vikings would be qualification for the ConIFA European Football Cup, and then possibly even the World Cup.

After all, it would be one in the eye for the other counties in the UK; imagine telling a Londoner that Yorkshire had won a world title in football as well… Plus in these troubled times internationally, wouldn’t it give the county its own place in the world?

Yorkshire in a World Cup?  Might yet happen…

www.conifa.org

www.yorkshireifa.com

Versions of this article appeared recently in the North Ferriby United fanzine “View From the Allotment End” and the Hampton & Richmond Borough FC match programme.

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