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GREENSBORO, N.C. – Incoming UNCG men's soccer freshman goalkeeper Ricky Zarri (Cortemilia, Italy/Piera Cillario Ferrero) will be playing for the region of Padania (Northern Italy) in the Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONFINA) in the 2017 European Championships this week. Zarri will be joining the Spartans this fall, his first year in the United States.

“This experience will be helpful for my first year at UNCG, helping me to prepare for NCAA Division I soccer,” Zarri said. “First and foremost, all the players in this team are older than me and play soccer for living, so I can play against players from that level. The players called in this team are some of the best semi-pros in northern Italy, and this is why being part of this group is an honor and incredible opportunity to improve my game.”

CONFINA is a global acting non-profit organization that supports representatives of international football teams from nations, de-facto nations, regions, minority peoples and sports isolated territories. There are 103 nations worldwide in CONFINA, including Padania, which represents Northern Italy and won the European Championship in 2015 in CONFINA. Other well-known federations include Northern Cyprus, Quebec, Tibet, Monaco, Armenia and many others.

“It is an honor to be able to represent Northern Italy on an international stage,” Zarri said.” It is special to be part of this experience. Other teams, like Abkhazia or Kurdistan, really want to be recognized as independent (especially politically) and this allows the tournament to be felt as the European Cup between "real" nations.”

The Padania team is made of up 24 players, who mostly play in the Lega-Pro, Serie D and Eccellenza in Italy. Zarri is the youngest member of the team and is the only player that is not playing in Italy or the Italian Lega this year. Zarri also played for the Padania team in the 2016 CONFINA World Cup in Abkhazia, playing in the quarterfinals and finals.

-- UNCG --