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July 26, 2017

Update from Oceania

The latest information from Kiribati and Tuvalu, as presented by writer Ola Bjerkevoll on the website

Kiribati – Fighting for FIFA membership

Kiribati are trying to gain entry into the football world, but are currently left alone to play football on their beautiful islands. But they want so much more, and helping them with that is one man from England.

Kiribati is a nation of 103,500 people comprised of 33 atolls and reef islands plus one raised coral island, the beautiful and tiny island of Banaba. 23 of these are inhabited, but most of the country’s inhabitants live on the main atoll Tarawa.

Despite the country being scattered around on many islands and atolls football still thrives in the country that gained its independence on this day from the United Kingdom in 1979.



Tuvalu – A nation’s struggle for footballing recognition

With a population between 10 000 and 12 000 people Tuvalu is one of the smallest nations in the world. Despite it being a tiny speck of dust on the world map they have a football team. A football team that is yet to be included into the FIFA-family, but might play in a World Cup next year.

Football is one of the biggest sports in Tuvalu and the tiny island nation’s governing football body, the Tuvalu Island Football Association (TIFA), run both men and women’s leagues as well as a junior and youth setup.

Tuvalu’s story is not unique. A small nation with few inhabitants with a love for the beautiful game who are not accepted into FIFA for a variety of reasons, most commonly it is the lack of infrastructure, such as a proper stadium or even a proper pitch (fellow Oceania nation Kiribati play on a mix of sand and gravel/clay and one of Tuvalu’s pitches doubles as an airport runway).

Ironically, these are all elements FIFA will help develop once the nations have joined FIFA. But to get into FIFA they have to have better stadiums and pitches but they can’t afford it unless they are in FIFA which won’t accept them because… you get the point, right? It’s a catch-22 of sorts.


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By Robin Toal

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