Ariddian Inter-Territorial Cup
The Inter-Territorial Cup (AITEC) was a football competition between eight nations or territories located in, or associated with, the Ariddian Isles. It was also popularly known as the "Cup of Friendship".
The idea was to foster and encourage good relations within the Ariddian Isles, by means of a common tournament. All Ariddian sovereign States and dependent territories agreed to take part, with the sole exception of Lwellsl, a protectorate of West Ariddia; football is not played in Lwellsl.
Participant countries and territories were:
- the People's Democratic Social Republic of Ariddia (ARI), which comprises nineteen of the twenty Ariddian Isles. Ariddia was the only participant to be internationally active at the time of the Inter-Territorial Cup, and, following World Cup 28, was ranked 26th best national team in the world.
- the Sovereign State of West Ariddia (SWA), which comprises most of the island of Limea. West Ariddia was briefly active on the international stage many decades ago.
- the City of North-West Ariddia (NWA), also a sovereign State, which had never played internationally.
- the Extra-Territorial Sovereign Ariddian Territory, (EAT) de jure a sovereign State but in reality merely a building in the Ariddian capital city Rêvane. With a population of just 49 people, ESAT had no football team, but 23 of the country's citizens agreed to form a team for the competition. Of course, many of them had no football experience whatsoever, and none had ever played professionally, nor even as a regular amateur.
- Gnatanamo (GNT), a continental exclave of Ariddia in Uhuhland, classified as a "special province" of the PDSRA. Gnatanamo had no "national" (or provincial) team, but did have several professional and amateur players who came together and formed a team for the occasion.
- Eshyosha (ESH), also a "special province" of Ariddia which created a football team for the occasion.
- the Ariddian Arctic Islands (AAI), a semi-autonomous Ariddian overseas territory. While it has five football clubs, the country had no "national" team, and created an informal one for the occasion.
- Ariddian Antarctica (ARA), an Ariddian dependency inhabited only by a handful of scientists on a part-time basis. They enthusiastically agreed to create a team for the Cup.
Each of the eight teams was assigned a seeding rank - S1 for Ariddia and West Ariddia, S2 for North-West Ariddia and the Arctic Islands, S3 for Gnatanamo and Eshyosha, S4 for ESAT and Ariddian Antarctica. Two groups were drawn based on these rankings.
The teams from Ariddia, West Ariddia, North-West Ariddia, Gnatanamo, Eshyosha and ESAT all performed the ulek at the start of each match they were playing in. Only the Ariddian Arctic Islands and Ariddian Antactica did not do so - the former because it is not an Arctic Islander tradition, and the latter because they did not wish to cause embarassment by mis-performing the ancient ritual.
Controversy before the Cup
There was some question as to the meaning of "football teams" from ESAT, Ariddian Antarctica and Eshyosha taking part. While the other five participants at least had football players, it was felt by some the teams from these three were a "joke" and that they would be "slaughtered" on the playing field. Nonetheless, the authorities of all three territories gave their backing to the teams' participation.
North-West Ariddia protested initially at being seeded "S2". As per the structure of the Cup, only the top team in each of the two groups would go on to the final, and North-West Ariddia pointed out that an S2 seeding meant it was bound to play either Ariddia or West Ariddia in the group stages, and hence almost certainly miss out on the final. The country's football association argued for utterly random group drawings, but later relented and accepted the rules agreed to by the seven other participants.
West Ariddia and Eshyosha, bitter political rivals, were drawn together in Group B. Eshyosha does not recognise the sovereignty of West Ariddia, and for a while there was some concern that the province might boycott and forfeit its match against this opponent. There were also fears that West Ariddia might refuse to play against a team from Eshyosha. Finally, however, both sides agreed to the drawing, in the spirit of cooperation and friendship the Cup was intended for. At the start of their match, the players of the two teams exchanged gifts of flowers and warm handshakes.
Finally, some fans complained that there would not be any suspense in any of the matches. They felt there was a very clear hierarchy between the eight teams, and that there would be no surprises. As it happens, they were mostly right, but supporters of the Cup claimed the main thing was the spirit of "fun, football and friendship".
Most matches were held on neutral ground. ESAT, Eshyosha and Ariddian Antarctica have no football stadium, and the Arctic Islands were deemed too distant. Hence, the matches were hosted by the remaining foour teams: North-West Ariddia (GNT-EAT, ARI-GNT, SWA-AAI, SWA-ARA & SWA-ESH), Ariddia (NWA-GNT, EAT-NWA & ESH-ARA), West Ariddia (AAI-ARA & AAI-ESH) and Gnatanamo (ARI-NWA & ARI-EAT).
Ariddia 7-2 North West Ariddia
Gnatanamo 4-0 ESAT
Ariddia 48-0 ESAT
North-West Ariddia 5-2 Gnatanamo
Ariddia 17-1 Gnatanamo
ESAT 0-29 North-West Ariddia
West Ariddia 6-3 Ariddian Arctic Islands
Eshyosha 7-0 Ariddian Antarctica
West Ariddia 37-0 Ariddian Antarctica
West Ariddia 11-1 Eshyosha
Ariddian Arctic Islands 20-1 Ariddian Antarctica
Ariddian Arctic Islands 8-1 Eshyosha
|Ariddian Arctic Islands||6||2||0||0||34||8||+26|
North-West Ariddia 5-3 Ariddian Arctic Islands
Ariddia 6-2 West Ariddia
Surprises and comments
There was not a single upset, and, as expected, no match ended in a draw. The predicted hierarchy was clearly maintained.
However, the fact that Gnatanamo was only able to score four goals against ESAT bordered on the astonishing, and was probably the greatest surprise of the Cup. In turn, North-West Ariddia's 5-2 victory over Gnatanamo was significantly closer than predicted, and for brief moments it seemed an upset was not entirely unthinkable. And Ariddian Antarctica surprisingly managed to score a goal against their antipodean opponents from the Ariddian Arctic Islands, losing "only" by one goal to twenty.
After the competition, ESAT and Ariddian Antarctica, no doubt still excited by their first foray into the world of football, agreed to a friendly match, hosted by Ariddia. It was, ironically, the only game to hold any suspense, as both sides were composed of people who had hardly ever played football in their life. In the end, ESAT pulled off a narrow 6-5 victory - its first ever goals, and its first ever win.