The United Nations has 193 members, whilst FIFA on the other hand has 211 members. This occurrence happens because many of the 193 members have self-governing colonies, such as the Cayman Islands or Martinique; more than one team represents a sovereign nation, such as England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland; political anomalies such as Hong Kong, China, and Taiwan; or simple geography, such as Guam. Generally speaking though, UN members tend to be able to muster up 11 players to compete at international football.
There are of course a few anomalies to throw into the mix; there’s Monaco, who instead of competing as a national team have one of the most successful team in the French league; there’s the Vatican City, whose population are far too busy touching people (spiritually, of course); there’s Tuvalu, who whilst not part of FIFA, are part of a regional group affiliated with FIFA; and there’s Nauru. Why doesn’t Nauru do soccer?
The history of football in Nauru
When you’re world’s least visited country, one of the most obese, and your colonial overlord is Australia, it hardly creates the foundations for thriving football culture. As such there really isn’t much of a football, or rather “soccer” culture in Nauru, with the national sport being Aussie Rules Football (for which it has a national league). During the economic heyday of the country in the 1970s, football was allegedly popular, and there was even a 6-team national league (from which there are no records), before the league went the way of the economy and disappeared.
The Nauru National team
Now whilst the Nauru football league might look like a failure, it is with the national team that failure is truly taken to another level, with the sports statistics foundation stating that it is “quite likely that there have been no official Nauru national football team”. In fact the only record for a result from any representative football team of Nauru was in 1994 when a Nauru team played some expats from the Solomon Islands and won 2-1.
Football today in Nauru
Nauru football lovers were given something to cheer about when they were due to play in the Micronesian Games in 2018, but had to pull out due to financial issues, with the financial issue being that they had no money. The team had been sourced locally from trials, and whilst no one truly knows how they would have fared, or even what colour shirts they would wear, the disappointment of never having played an international game still was real.
Maybe 2019 will the year the last UN state not to play an international fixture will be represented on the international stage. Or maybe – just maybe – it won’t.