Jersey to enter 2020 World Cup?
ISLAND football players could soon have three national and international avenues to choose from, following news that a former Muratti defender is chasing ConIFA membership on Jersey’s behalf.
Teacher James Scott, who won 12 Muratti caps between 2007-2017, has opened discussions with the Confederation of Independent Football Associations following their 2018 World Cup in London, with the aim of adding the Island to its ranks before their next major event in 2020.
ConIFA, a volunteer-run organisation which includes self-proclaimed ‘nations’ such as Panjab FA, Tibet, Northern Cyprus, Tuvalu and a satellite squad representing the Isle of Man, has suggested that Jersey would be welcomed in the coming seasons.
Jersey FA have organised three friendlies with Panjab since 2016, although officials at Springfield are still pursuing full international status through Uefa, following formal rejection in February.
A separate party, who have yet to announce their plans formally, are also in advanced talks to send Jersey into the UK league pyramid in 2019.
‘There didn’t seem to be a “Plan B” after Uefa,’ Scott said, referring to the JFA’s bid. ‘So I looked for an alternative and found ConIFA.
‘I followed it closely over the summer and saw that they get big crowds – around 2,500 people watching games. They have big media coverage and there was a good atmosphere around London. I believe it was a great opportunity that we missed out on, so I asked the question about whether we can become a member and it’s gathered momentum.
‘The application process has started and we’ve got a team together to make it happen ... I’m determined to drive this on and make it happen.
‘The initial response from players has been good and they’re very keen on it.’
Placing his goals alongside those from elsewhere, Scott said: ‘At this moment in time the JFA say ConIFA is not in their plans, but at the end of the day we’re in this together so I’d be more than happy to sit down with them.
‘And can it work hand in hand with a Jersey FC? The answer is yes. ConIFA is a tournament every two years, exactly like the Island Games, so it would be Island Games one year then ConIFA the next and league games in between.
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That means that every year there will be a tournament for our players to play in.’
JFA chief executive Jean-Luc Desbois has applauded the ‘Parishes of Jersey FC’ ConIFA working party for their ambitions and has committed to meet Scott to discuss the plans. However, he admitted that he would be unable to offer his support, and expressed concerns that Island football could be pulled in too many directions.
‘We have got to be careful,’ he said.
‘Their intention is right – it’s good that they want to improve the opportunities for footballers – but our efforts need to be combined, rather than everyone charging off and arranging different fixtures. We need to be working together.
‘’It is a proper tournament, but we don’t want to be diving into it and then in a few years’ time having to pull out. We can’t dip our toe in and out of different competitions.’
Discussing the JFA’s ongoing co-operation with Uefa, Desbois said: ‘We understand that membership will not come any time soon, but Uefa have offered us help to improve our games programme and I don’t think any FA in their right mind would walk away from that.’
The north American territory of Cascadia is rumoured to be interested in hosting the 2020 ConIFA World Cup – a competition which Jersey could attend if sufficient sponsorship is found. The Island’s application is expected to be discussed at or before ConIFA’s annual general meeting in Ethiopia in January 2019.