Padania have won the second Viva World Cup, for non-Fifa affiliated nations, beating the Aramean Syriac side 2-0 in the final yesterday. The goals came from midfielders Alberto Colombo, who plays for Serie D side Merate, and Giordan Ligarotti, from Este who play in the Eccellenza regional leagues.
Organised by the Nouvelle Fédération Board (NFB), the tournament involved just 5 sides: alongside the eventual finalists were Provence, Kurdistan and the hosts, the Sápmi, representing the Sami people who occupy parts of northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, and who had won the inaugural Viva World Cup in 2006. For a variety of reasons – logistic, political, footballing – many other teams involved either in the 2006 edition or in other NFB games chose not to take part: Occitania, Tibet, Zanzibar, Greenland and Northern Cyprus, to name but a few.
Padania waltzed to glory with comfort, winning their group stage games 6-1, 2-1, 2-0 and 4-1. And Lega Nord leader and founder Umberto Bossi, taking time out from the minor task of being Minister for Institutional Reforms, was there to cheer on his team’s victory. What it means when a government minister of one country claims to identify with the national team of another, albeit unrecognised, nation is a mystery… Anyway, Bossi made his way onto the pitch at the end to celebrate with the players and the 40 or 50 Padania fans who had made the long trip to what we’re not supposed to call Lapland.
The NFB are hopeful that the competition will continue to grow in strength and status, so perhaps a wealthy, first-world victor is no bad thing from their perspective, if it raises the profile of the competition. As for the quality of the actual football, that’s anybody’s guess: I can’t find a proper match report anywhere. But then it’s a competition where symbolism is more important than goals.