Chameria plays in the CONIFA European Championship Football

From 1 to 9 June 2019 the national football team of Chameria participated in the CONIFA European Football Championship for nations who are unaffiliated with FIFA. The tournament was held in the independent, but unrecognised, Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabagh).

Since June 2017 the national football team of Chameria has played a dozen football matches against other nations, like the Southern Cameroons and Kurdistan, as well as against professional teams from the football competition of Albania, Kosovo and the Netherlands. These matches provided a unique opportunity to show the vitality of the Chamerian identity, meet like-minded underrepresented Peoples with similar aspirations and promote Chameria on the international stage.

The national football association of Chameria became an official member of CONIFA in May 2018 and was able to get on the roster of the European Championships of 2019 due to its achievements on the sports field and its professional organisation. The players for the national football team of Chameria were picked from various professional football competitions in Albania, Kosovo, France and Switzerland. Mr. Arben Arkaxhiu, President of the Football Association, and Mr. Jeroen Zandberg, Secretary of the Football Association, as well as the coach and the physical trainer completed the Chamerian delegation to the tournament.

The Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA) is a non-profit membership organisation consisting of football associations from underrepresented nations and States. It has been organising World and European Football Championships since 2013 and brings together most of the world’s national football teams of underrepresented and unrecognised nations. The latest World Championship Cup was held in London in June 2018. CONIFA has a mission to connect the world through sports and bring underrepresented nations into the spotlight.

The European Championship Football was held in Artsakh (Nagorno Karabagh), which is an independent but unrecognised State in the Caucasus inhabited by about 150-thousand citizens whose ancestors have lived on their ancestral territory for several millennia. The region is home to many cultural historical highlights of Armenian-Artsakh history. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union the citizens of the region on 2 September 1991 proclaimed the independent Republic of Nagorno Karabagh and were confronted with war on several occasions. In 2017 the republic was renamed from Nagorno Karabagh to Artsakh. The independent Republic of Artsakh has not yet received international recognition and works closely with Armenia.

The nine-day tournament had eight football teams compete with each other for the title of European Champion. The participating nations were: South Ossetia, Western Armenia, Abkhazia, Chameria, Artsakh, Padania, Sapmi and Szekely Land.

The matches were held in the major towns and cities of the Republic of Artsakh: Askeran, Martakert, Martuni and the capital city of Stepanakert.

The opening ceremony in the evening of 1 June 2019 in the stadium of the capital city of Stepanakert brought together thousands of Artsakh residents and interested individuals from all over the world. Many journalists from international media covered the event, which was opened by the president of the republic, other dignitaries and the CONIFA presidents. The participating football teams walked behind their flag in a parade to greet the audience while the national anthems of the nations were played. This was followed by a spectacular concert by national and international artists, several of whom performed songs specially written for the tournament.

The national football team of Chameria played three matches in Group A on 2, 3 and 4 June 2019 against Abkhazia, Artsakh and Sapmi. These matches were held in the stadiums in the cities of Askeran, Martuni and Martakert. On 6 June 2019, the Chamerian football team played the semi-final against South Ossetia in the city of Askeran and lost the match following a penalty shoot-out. On 8 June 2019, Chameria played its final match in the battle for third place against Abkhazia in the capital city of Stepanakert. This match was also decided in a penalty shoot-out and eventually won by Abkhazia. The final between South Ossetia and Western Armenia was held on 9 June 2019 and was won by South Ossetia who were crowned European champion.