The Utanian Football Association is the single government-accredited and universally accepted football governing body in Utania. It supports hundreds of football competitions nationwide, thousands of clubs and millions of players, both casual and professional. It operates, with considerable government assistance, on a Û600 million budget, and runs the exclusive Utanian football-broadcasting satellite television channel, TV UFA, on the Starlight Satellite Television network.
The UFA formed out of the ashes of the Southern Inter-Provincial competition (SIPC), a coalition of teams and leagues that formed an inter-province competition in the south of the Guwimithian Empire dependencies. The SIPC formed five years after the Empire's mainland provinces were granted limited autonomy in 271ap, founded to enhance inter-province fraternity and cooperation.
Twelve teams then formed the SIPC Championship, a 22-match round-robin competition that culminated in declaring a champion team each year. Six years later, the SIPC Cup was founded in which all regional teams could participate in a knock-out competition that saw the winners take away a large trophy. A Second division was formed four years later, and a third division was briefly trialed in 287 and 288ap.
However, with the collapse of the Guwimithian Empire, the newly-founded Yellow Free State pulled its teams out of the SIPC to help found the South Bay National Soccer League (SBNSL), and shattering the 299ap competition. The remaining teams regrouped in 300ap just as the campaign to found the nation of Utania was ramping up, and they created the Utanian Football Association just days after the declaration of Utanian independence in May 300ap.
The UFA was not without controversy, however, with widespread allegations of rampant corruption demoralising the two leagues' fans and players alike.
The nascent Utanian government stepped-in the following year (301ap) with police raids and several corruption arrests. Then-President Okarvits declared "martial law" on the organisation, and laid down a proposal: receive substantial government funding in exchange for rooting-out corruption and cleaning up the game's tarnished image, expanding the brief of the body to include ALL football played down to the local kids competition, and giving two Board positions of eight to government appointees to help ensure probity.
Since then, despite a change of President, and despite rapidly growing revenues from its very successful TV UFA, the UFA still receives hundreds of millions of punds in government support if only because the body is important to national pride, cohesion and unity.
National Leagues Edit
As at 305ap, The two primary professional, national leagues are the Premier Division and the Seconds Division, both consisting of sixteen teams each, with an end-of-year exchange of three teams, the three best of the Seconds being elevated to replace the three weakest of the Premier Division.
The strongest team in the competition has consistently been the Luka Central F.C. (the "Blues"), with Utan Krysaror NFA, Richmond, Hamilton RFA and Charleston CFC following closely behind.
Football, the UFA and "market forces" Edit
Luka Central's Board has frequently challenged UFA authority preventing it from floating the club as a corporation, hiring foreign players, or attempting to buy and sell players domestically. Though pressure, particularly from the Hope government, is growing for a relaxation of the UFA rules in these matters, the UFA has consistently won any and all legal challenges to its authority.
Instead, a domestic "Draft" is provided that allows weaker teams, in preference to stronger teams, to select players from a pool. The players are those whom clubs have decided to trade-out or new players into the competition. A cap is also mandated on the aggregate of a club's total salary bill for players, preventing teams from simply attracting all the best players by paying them more.
While opposed to such restraints on trade, accusing Chairman Roger Beyose of "socialist leanings", the Hope government's attempts to force change on the UFA Board have been repeatedly rebuffed. Beyose openly admits he, and most other Board members, are opposed to the "introduction of market forces" into the game, saying it will "only reinforce the country's strong economic disparities".
International Competing Edit
The UFA is also responsible for the provision of a national Utanian football team, the Crusaders. The Crusaders have had a rather mixed record. Initially, the team struggled to demonstrate its prowess on the international stage, being successively beaten.
The Prince Saleh Cup Edit
This changed at the 306ap St. Samuel-based Prince Saleh Cup, when Utania narrowly lost the final to Allacoa, 2-1, after providing a strong performance in all matches before the final. In 307ap, the Crusaders again lost out to Porto Capital, again 2-1 in extra time.
However, in the 308ap Prince Saleh Cup, the Crusaders collapsed, winning, losing and drawing one game each to San Patricio, Somery and Cruisana respectively in the Group C preliminary rounds. Quite what lead to the collapse has been a matter of widespread national speculation and conjecture. Some have suggested Coach Thomas Amayu had outlasted his performance, while others suggest the team was looking too old and grey for the job, relying on past performance not renewal of the team. UFA officials were caught-out blaming the revamped IVEFA, for which they later unreservedly apologised.
UFA ambition: The VexCup Edit
The UFA's stated goal has long been the winning of the Vexillium Cup to Utania, however the Hope government has treated winning the Vexgames a higher priority leaving the UFA to push its goal without much diplomatic support.