East Turkistan, West Papua and an Extraordinary Game of Football

By Henryk Szadziewski
October 16, 2019

On Saturday, October 19, 2019, fans across Europe will watch their favorite team play a game of football. Whether at the stadium or in a bar, they might wear a jersey or display a banner to distinguish them from supporters of other teams. It’s a ritual for many people around the world, a normal part of any weekend. 

However, on the same day, an extraordinary contest will take place in The Hague. Against a backdrop of intensifying human rights abuses in their regions, players and fans of the East Turkistan and West Papua “national” sides will have an opportunity to put on the shirts and fly the flags of their homelands at a football match. The game is the first for both the East Turkistan and West Papua Football Associations under the auspices of the Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA), an organization for teams representing “nations, de-facto nations, regions, minority peoples and sports isolated territories.”