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Battle of the Little Guys

Do you like soccer, but are tired of all the hype, overinflated egos and crass commercialization around the upcoming World Cup? In Hamburg, an alternative mini tournament is taking place -- the Wild Cup.

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Greenland went head to head against Northern Cyprus

Although there are still 10 days before the FIFA World Cup kicks off, last night, four titans of world soccer faced off in matches of grueling endurance, fancy footwork and high-octane emotion. Well, titans might be a slight exaggeration, since the teams involved were Northern Cyprus, Greenland, the Republic of St. Pauli and Gibraltar.

Giants of the game they might not (yet) be, but the teams have a lot of enthusiasm, even though Greenland doesn't even have a regulation soccer pitch on its icy island. They, along with teams from Zanzibar and Tibet, have come to Hamburg to play in the FIFI Wild Cup, a good-spirited alternative to the FIFA mega-event that starts on June 9.

FIFI Wild Cup Logo

The event is being held in Hamburg's Millerntor Stadium, home to the St. Pauli soccer club, a team better known for its political views than for its prowess on the pitch. The team's constitution takes aim at homophobia, racism and sexism and the group likes to mix a good dose of rock 'n' roll with its running and kicking.

The teams playing in the Wild Cup come from parts of the world not recognized as independent states by FIFA. Greenland is an autonomous part of Denmark, China claims Tibet and Northern Cyprus is allied with Turkey.

FIFI, which stands for the International Federation of Independent Football nations, claims it is trying to bring the passion back into football, since it says the world governing body FIFA has allowed the sport to be hijacked by corporate interests.

The final, to be held on June 3, will be screened live on a German sports channel and between 5,000 and 15,000 spectators are expected to attend matches. "This was a concept that was basically thought up one drunken night," said Michael Meeske, manager at St. Pauli.

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