Before my trip to Nauru, and knowing it to be one of the world’s least-visited and smallest countries, I decided to look into if it had a football team. Unsurprisingly I found that it didn’t, but this started me onto a bit of an odyssey into other nations that didn’t belong to FIFA, but did to a regional body, such as Tuvalu or Kiribati. I didn’t think there was any country that basically had not ever had a football team, but apparently they don’t really do football in the Marshall Islands. I decided to explore!
The Marshall Islands is one of the least-visited countries on earth, but with a population of 53,000, it should be able to compete with your San Marinos of the world. When your 50k-plus residents have a heavy American influence, however, and aren’t exactly the sporty type, footie takes but a bit of a back foot.
So, no football like, ever? I wish I had asked this question when I was there, but according to internet land, none! The Wikipedia entry for football in the Marshall Islands simply listing one stadium in Majuro, the imaginatively-titled “Sports Stadium”. This could technically host a game, if anyone played football in the Marshall Islands, which they don’t.
The only story with any relevance to football in the Marshall Islands is about an Australian expat who tried to get things started in the early 90s – and even had 60 whole players – before closing venues meant a loss of interest and not even the vaguest hope of a representative side.
So, congratulations to the Marshall Islands. I honestly thought I’d discovered the world’s worst football non-team with the least chance of joining FIFA in the mightily obese nation of Nauru, but no – the Marshall Islands have an even worse football caliber.
To summarize: having 53,000 people with access to televisions and the internet means that surely, with some interest, the Marshall Islands must be able to rank up a football team. Alas, for now, the Marshall Islands will not be joining FIFA.