The Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA) announced that Kiribati will not participate in the World Football Cup.
CONIFA cited financial reasons for Kiribati’s withdrawal from the World Football Cup, set to be hosted in London this summer. As Football in Oceania understands it they had been trying to secure funding from the government and other sponsors but that venture has now fallen short.
“While we are truly disappointed not to be competing at the 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup due to financial constraints, we wish our Pacific neighbours Tuvalu all the best in their journey to London. We thank CONIFA for all its work developing football around the globe, and look forward to maintaining our relationship with CONIFA to strengthen the world game in Oceania,” KIFA President Ioteba Redfern told CONIFA.
The other Oceania representative in CONIFA, Tuvalu, will now take their place. They will take Kiribati’s spot in Group C and will come up against European Champions Padania, Matabeleland from Africa and another European side in Szekely Land.
After good results in the Pacific Mini Games in Vanuatu in December, beating New Caledonia’s U21 team, the Oceania representative could be in with a shot at advancing from the group.
“We are delighted to be given this late call-up for CONIFA’s biggest ever tournament,” said Tuvalu Islands Football Association (TIFA) President Soseala Tinilau. “Obviously, our selection is tinged with sadness that our dear neighbours Kiribati are unable to compete, but we look forward to doing the region proud in London.”
General Secretary of CONIFA, Sascha Düerkop is sad to see Kiribati pull out but tells Football in Oceania that Tuvalu could do a very good job.
“We are very sad to hear that the Kiribati Island Football Association was not able to raise sufficient funds to make it to London, mainly because the Kiribati government decided to not provide any support. KIFA and we all at CONIFA are still fully convinced that such international football exposure would have a massive effect on the general sport scene and the whole country.
“At the same time we are very happy to see Tuvalu coming to London and taking the Oceanian spot. They proved to be no pushovers in the latest Pacific Games and impressed the whole continent. We are fully convinced that they are a top quality representative for all Pacific Islands and Pacific Islanders around the world and we are really excited to see how they do about a global opposition,” Düerkop said.
The World Football Cup will be held from 31st of May to 9th of June. Tuvalu’s games will be played at Coles Park Stadium, home of Haringey Borough FC. The Group Stage matches will be played on the 31st, 2nd and 3rd. For more info and how to get tickets, go here.