Tifo: The Story of World Cup qualification

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World Cup qualification in Europe. Illustration ©Philippe Fenner for Tifo.

After writing Thirty One Nil, the story of World Cup qualification told by the underdogs, I have found it quite hard not to keep following the minutiae of the Road to Russia 2018.

It was, again, a vast and colourful campaign across the globe full of intrigue, goals and political controversy. So, for Tifo, I helped put together three YouTube videos that told the story of qualification for the 2018 World Cup finals.

Part one covers qualification in Asia, Oceania and CONCACAF:

Part two covers the tough route teams have to take in Africa and South America:

Finally, part three focuses on qualification in Europe:


Monocle: Eritrea and the Mediterranean Crisis

RwandaPhoto © James Montague

In recent months I’ve spent time documenting the migrant and refugee crisis currently afflicting most of country’s on the Mediterranean rim, with implications far beyond the shoreline.

Over a quarter of the migrants crossing the Med (where nearly 2,000 have drowned this year already) are from Eritrea, a tiny country on the east coast of Africa that is perhaps, alongside North Korea, the worst place in the world to be a human.

For my book Thirty One Nil I wrote a chapter about Eritrea. Over 50 international players have fled whilst on international duty as it is the only chance they have of leaving the country safely. Many of the players I met have now found safety in places like Australia and the US. Last year I visited the town in The Netherlands where 17 members of the team and the team’s doctor had been resettled after absconding after a tournament in Uganda.

Monocle radio did a special episode of The Foreign Desk podcast where I talk about the conditions the players face, their escape, and their fear of retribution.