Title Title
Tibet's disparate underdogs unite on and off the pitch Tibet's disparate underdogs unite on and off the pitch
Summary Summary
The Dalai Lama is supporting the Tibetan football team as it takes on rival nations unrecognized by FIFA The Dalai Lama is supporting the Tibetan football team as it takes on rival nations unrecognized by FIFA
Highlights Highlights
Content Content
<b>Passang Dorjee left Tibet at the age of seven and never went back. But living in exile in northern India has not stopped him becoming general secretary of the Tibetan Sports Association: in fact, it is probably the only way he could.</b>  <b>Passang Dorjee left Tibet at the age of seven and never went back. But living in exile in Northern India has not stopped him becoming general secretary of the Tibetan Sports Association: in fact, it is probably the only way he could.</b>
[caption id="attachment_73926" align="aligncenter" width="620"]<img class="size-medium wp-image-73926" src="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/wikitribune-uploads-master/2018/06/07102246/IMG_1788-620x465.jpg" alt="Passang Dorjee in a tracksuit and wearing sunglasses, stands in front of a football pitch, with players warming up and a stand in the background" width="620" height="465" /> Passang Dorjee left Tibet aged seven and lives in India organizing sports for the Tibetan diaspora.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_73926" align="aligncenter" width="620"]<img class="size-medium wp-image-73926" src="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/wikitribune-uploads-master/2018/06/07102246/IMG_1788-620x465.jpg" alt="Passang Dorjee in a tracksuit and wearing sunglasses, stands in front of a football pitch, with players warming up and a stand in the background" width="620" height="465" /> Passang Dorjee left Tibet aged seven and lives in India organizing sports for the Tibetan diaspora.[/caption]
<span style="font-weight: 400;">"I am secretary, manager, press man, many things," Dorjeee told </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">WikiTribune</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">, on a pitch in South London, watching Tibet's "national" football team warm up for a match.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">"I am secretary, manager, press man, many things," Dorjeee told </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">WikiTribune</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">, on a pitch in South London, watching Tibet's "national" football team warm up for a match.</span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">It is his first visit to London and the first time his team has participated in the <a href="http://www.conifa.org/en/wfc-2018/wfc-2018-tickets/">CONIFA World Football Cup</a>, a tournament for states, regions and minority groups who are not recognized by FIFA, the world governing body whose <a href="http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/">own prestige tournament</a> is about to get under way in Russia.</span>  <span style="font-weight: 400;">It is his first visit to London and the first time his team has participated in the <a href="http://www.conifa.org/en/wfc-2018/wfc-2018-tickets/">CONIFA World Football Cup</a>, a tournament for states, regions and minority groups who are not recognized by FIFA, the world governing body whose own prestige tournament is about to get under way in Russia.</span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">CONIFA (the Confederation of Independent Football Associations) invited Dorjee and his team as a wildcard entry for the tournament, held in London for the first time from May 31 to June 9.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">CONIFA (the Confederation of Independent Football Associations) invited Dorjee and his team as a wildcard entry for the tournament, held in London for the first time from May 31 to June 9.</span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">The debutants did not have a great time on the field — losing their three group matches, conceding 11 goals and scoring one — but off it Dorjee says they have greatly enjoyed the rare chance to represent the place they identify with as a home country. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The debutants did not have a great time on the field — losing their three group matches, conceding 11 goals and scoring one — but off it Dorjee says they have greatly enjoyed the rare chance to represent the place they identify with as a home country. </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">The Chinese government <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tibetan_sovereignty_debate">maintains</a> that Tibet has been part of what is historically recognised as China since the Yuan Dynasty began in 1271. An independent Tibetan government claimed to rule the region from 1912, before becoming a government in exile in 1951.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The Chinese government <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tibetan_sovereignty_debate">maintains</a> that Tibet has been part of what is historically recognised as China since the Yuan Dynasty began in 1271. An independent Tibetan government claimed to rule the region from 1912, before becoming a government in exile in 1951.</span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">No multilateral organizations recognize the government in exile's right to rule or the region of Tibet's right to sovereignty, though many governments<a href="https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/question-tibet#p2"> have condemned</a> China for depriving the Tibetan people of their political rights and suppressing dissent. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">No multilateral organizations recognize the government in exile's right to rule or the region of Tibet's right to sovereignty, though many governments<a href="https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/question-tibet#p2"> have condemned</a> China for depriving the Tibetan people of their political rights and suppressing dissent. </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">The Dalai Lama <a href="https://twitter.com/CONIFAOfficial/status/997570330683199488">met the team</a> and saw them off before the tournament, and Dorjee says that in Tibet itself people are aware of it. Dorjee hopes they get to watch, but fervent or open displays of support would likely put them at risk from the Chinese government; “there might be problems,” he said.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The Dalai Lama <a href="https://twitter.com/CONIFAOfficial/status/997570330683199488">met the team</a> and saw them off before the tournament, and Dorjee says that in Tibet itself people are aware of it. Dorjee hopes they get to watch, but fervent or open displays of support would likely put them at risk from the Chinese government; “there might be problems,” he said.</span>
[caption id="attachment_73927" align="aligncenter" width="620"]<img class="size-medium wp-image-73927" src="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/wikitribune-uploads-master/2018/06/07102747/IMG_1816-620x465.jpg" alt="A Tibet player controls the ball, while opposition players close in, another Tibet player makes a run in the background" width="620" height="465" /> Only a few players in the team have lived in Tibet, with many born in Northern India. Photographs: Jack Barton[/caption] [caption id="attachment_73927" align="aligncenter" width="620"]<img class="size-medium wp-image-73927" src="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/wikitribune-uploads-master/2018/06/07102747/IMG_1816-620x465.jpg" alt="A Tibet player controls the ball, while opposition players close in, another Tibet player makes a run in the background" width="620" height="465" /> Only a few players in the team have lived in Tibet, with many born in Northern India. Photographs: Jack Barton[/caption]
<span style="font-weight: 400;">This group of players aren’t involved in politics or calls for Tibetan independence, but equally it's impossible to be Tibetan and not have a stake in the argument. Many support protests or promote slogans, said Dorjee, but ultimately they agree with the Dalai Lama’s advocacy of the “Middle Way” approach; promoting the recognition of China’s territorial control of Tibet, but recognizing and protecting the culture, identity and religion of Tibetans.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">This group of players aren’t involved in politics or calls for Tibetan independence, but equally it's impossible to be Tibetan and not have a stake in the argument. Many support protests or promote slogans, said Dorjee, but ultimately they agree with the Dalai Lama’s advocacy of the “Middle Way” approach; promoting the recognition of China’s territorial control of Tibet, but recognizing and protecting the culture, identity and religion of Tibetans.</span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">“If we fight for freedom we need lots of things,” said Dorjee. “We know we need to reach out to the Chinese to fight for freedom. So the best way is with the Dalai Lama, with the guidance he has given us ... and he said we should go for the Middle Way approach.”</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">“If we fight for freedom we need lots of things,” said Dorjee. “We know we need to reach out to the Chinese to fight for freedom. So the best way is with the Dalai Lama, with the guidance he has given us ... and he said we should go for the Middle Way approach.”</span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">With a diaspora population estimated at <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tibetan_diaspora">anywhere from</a> 120,000 to above 160,000 Tibet is one of the larger participants in the tournament, though unlike many of the teams there are no professionals or former professionals in the squad.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">With a diaspora population estimated at <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tibetan_diaspora">anywhere from</a> 120,000 to above 160,000 Tibet is one of the larger participants in the tournament, though unlike many of the teams there are no professionals or former professionals in the squad.</span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">After talking to </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">WikiTribune</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">, Dorjee sits back to watch his team’s game against a team of Turkish Londoners. He showed little emotion as his team conceded three times before half time, but a small group of Tibetan fans screamed every time their playeers approached the opposition half.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">After talking to </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">WikiTribune</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">, Dorjee sits back to watch his team’s game against a team of Turkish Londoners. He showed little emotion as his team conceded three times before half time, but a small group of Tibetan fans screamed every time their playeers approached the opposition half.</span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Officially, Tibet got their first win that day, as their scheduled opponents, Ellen Vannin or the Isle of Man, withdrew due to a dispute over a previous match.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Officially, Tibet got their first win that day, as their scheduled opponents, Ellen Vannin or the Isle of Man, withdrew due to a dispute over a previous match.</span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Appropriately, Dorjee is a sports fan who identifies with and always supports the underdog. His football team used to be FC Barcelona, but they became "too successful", he said, so he switched to Arsenal.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Appropriately, Dorjee is a sports fan who identifies with and always supports the underdog. His football team used to be FC Barcelona, but they became "too successful", he said, so he switched to Arsenal.</span>
[caption id="attachment_73929" align="aligncenter" width="620"]<img class="size-medium wp-image-73929" src="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/wikitribune-uploads-master/2018/06/07103630/IMG_1820-620x465.jpg" alt="A floor to ceiling England flag with a Tibetan flag in the top left quarter" width="620" height="465" /> The Tibet team have enjoyed support from neutrals in the UK, and traveling supporters.[/caption]  [caption id="attachment_73929" align="aligncenter" width="620"]<img class="size-medium wp-image-73929" src="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/wikitribune-uploads-master/2018/06/07103630/IMG_1820-620x465.jpg" alt="A floor to ceiling England flag with a Tibetan flag in the top left quarter" width="620" height="465" /> The Tibet team have enjoyed support from neutrals in the UK, and traveling supporters. [/caption]
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