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ConIFA World Football Cup 2018: Who are Abkhazia?

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As part of The National Student's coverage of the ConIFA World Football Cup in London, we're bringing you the low down on all 16 teams to feature in the tournament. We start with Abkhazia and their history. 

 

Who are they?

Abkhazia is a breakaway region in the northwest corner of Georgia. Currently, only 4 members of the United Nations recognise it as a state. These are Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru.

Formerly under the sphere of influence of the Roman Empire and part of several Georgian Kingdoms, Abkhazia was established as a separate Kingdom in 768, which was reunified with Georgia in 1008. 

The region alternated between the hands of the Ottoman and Russian Empires in the 19th Century, before eventually settling as part of the Soviet Union. 

Abkhazi's are a separate ethnic group to Georgians and tensions began breaking out in the late 1980s. 

The capital, Sukhumi saw riots which killed 16 Georgians and injured another 137 in 1989. A power-sharing agreement was able to keep the peace when Georgia left the USSR though Abhkazi's voted to preserve the Union.

A military coup saw Soviet dissident Zavid Gamsakhurdia lose power. Georgia's new head of state was Eduard Shevardnadze who was surrounded by hard-line nationalists.

In June 1992, Abkhazia formally declared independence. 

In August 1992, the Georgian government accused supporters of the deposed Gamsakhurdia of kidnapping their interior minister and taking him to Abkhazia. This launched the Abkhazia War, which involved members of the Georgian Army engaging in pillaging, assault and murder.

Joining other groups in the Northern Caucasus, Abkhazia waged war with Tiblisi. The war lasted around a year and ended when the Georgian held Sukhumi was shelled, leaving Shevardnadze trapped.

A truce was agreed in Sochi but in September 1993, the Abkhazian forces finally retook the capital, snipers firing on the hotel where Shevardnadze was staying. Over the coming wars, atrocities were committed against the region's ethnic Georgian population. 

Both sides have been accused of gross human rights violations. 

Abkhazia was in direct conflict with Georgia in the 2008 South Ossetia War, fighting on the same side as fellow breakaway state South Ossetia and Russia. 

The team and their ConIFA history

The squad for last year's ConIFA European Champions featured players mostly playing domestically, however, several players play in the Russian league system, while a few play in Serbia, Northern Cyprus and Turkey.

They won the most recent ConIFA World Football Cup in 2016 beating Panjab on home soil. They were noted for their fanatical support throughout the tournament.

 Famous Abkhazians 

Notable people with roots in the regions include late writer Fazil Iskandar, Ali Bey al-Kabir, who led a successful rebellion against Ottoman rule in Mamluk Egypt and former Ottoman Grand Vizier Hayreddin Pasha.  

 

Image Credit - Pixabay

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