Saturday, 24 September 2011, 12:22 GMT
Kurdistan to host 2012 VIVA World Cup
By Zakaria Muhammed

A delegation consisting of presidents of 11 stateless regions' football federations, headed by the president of Non-FIFA Board, paid a visit to the Kurdish capital city of Erbil on Sept. 19. The
delegation was received by the Kurdistan Football Federation's
president and several other sports and government officials at the Erbil International Airport.

The main aim of the visit was to check on the current security condition and sports infrastructure of Erbil, which will host the fifth VIVA World Cup in 2012 for ?national? teams that are not members of FIFA.

The NF Board visited Kurdistan in 2010 to assess the region's capacity to host the 2012 VIVA World Cup. The board's delegation was satisfied with the security in the Region, and its stadiums, hotels and airports, which met NF Board standards. The Region has two international airports and its 25,000-capacity Franso Hariri Stadium in Erbil. Kurdistan, having taken part in the VIVA World Cup three times, will fund the hosting of up to a dozen teams in 2012. Football fans, the media and Kurdistan's cities look forward to the competition.

On the day the delegation arrived, it held a press conference at the KFF headquarters. NF Board President Christian Michelis and KFF President Safeen Kanaby held the press conference.

"I am very glad to be here for the second time. I can tell that many changes have been made and the city has made great progress in many respects since last year," said Michelis. "The NF Board has 34 members, but for next year's VIVA World Cup we will try to invite the best 10 teams. The coming year's tournament will be only for men's teams, as we have decided to organize the same tournament for women in 2013, and we would like it to be hosted in Kurdistan Region, too."
Michelis also revealed that NF Board tried hard to bring the Catalonia team to the competition, even though it is difficult. The participation of Catalonia team would definitely add spice to the tournament because the team has many star players.

In his final speech at the press conference, Michelis reaffirmed his full trust that Kurdistan Region can host the competition successfully. He expressed his hope that everything will go well and that all the teams will enjoy visiting the Region in 2012.

During its stay, the delegation met with the head of KRG's foreign relations Fallah Mustafa, Erbil Governor Nawzad Hadi, Kurdistan Region Parliament members and Kurdistan Olympic Committee members.
Kanaby expressed his pleasure at the NF Board president's visit to Erbil: "This visit is a good signal to those who put obstacles in the way of hosting the VIVA World Cup in Kurdistan Region. The most delightful thing is that the Kurdish government has already shown its readiness to support Erbil hosting the events. We have official letters from KRG showing its keenness in taking on the event's expenses."

In addition to the support from KRG, Kanaby said many other loyal sports fans have shown their eagerness to financially support the event.

"Having more than one source of funding makes me happy and I would like to acknowledge all those who want to help us. But the government's support is more than enough for us; that is why we have decided to depend on the government," he said.

Kanaby doesn't think Catalonia will take part in the competition because FIFA allows the team to play friendly matches with national teams. What is important, in his opinion, is that the events will be held in Kurdistan in May 2012 and nobody can stop it from taking place.

A new logo for the VIVA World Cup was suggested and presented by KFF, and the logo will be used in 2012. The colors of the logo represent Kurdistan's flag and the words on it are all in the Kurdish language.
KFF is well prepared and doing its best to make sure the tournament goes smoothly. Observers believe the events will be an historic achievement not only for KFF or sports officials, but for all Kurdish people.

The VIVA World Cup is an international football tournament organized by the NF Board, an umbrella association for nations unaffiliated with FIFA. Competitions are held every two years. Kurdistan Region has taken part in this tournament three times. In 2008, Kurdistan secured fourth place, but was runner-up in 2009 and 2010.