International: Tuvalu

Back to the International series now and today we are looking at the unusual case of Tuvalu.

Tuvalu is a small island country in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, situated about halfway between Hawaii and Australia with a population of around 11,000 and has a total land area of around 10 square miles. Tuvalu is a member of the Commonwealth and the United Nations.

Back to football now and despite its small size, Tuvalu is football mad, the country has two division and 14 different clubs sides alongside its International team, however due to its small size there is only one football pitch on the islands.

Training on Tuvalu

The Tuvalu National Team is a member of the OFC and was founded in 1979, the Oceania Football Confederation one of the six big confederations that overlooks world football, despite this however at present Tuvalu aren’t members of FIFA mainly due to their lack of a regulation pitch. The Tuvalu Football Association continues to seek membership of FIFA with the Dutch Support Tuvalu Foundation assisting Tuvalu with the FIFA application and with the development of football in Tuvalu.

Whilst they still seek FIFA membership, Tuvalu are members of ConIFA and have been since 2016, and as members competed at the 2018 CONIFA World Cup in London, finishing 15th out of 16 nations.

Tuvalu at the 2017 Pacific Mini Games

History was made in 2007 when Tuvalu became the first non FIFA member to participate in an official World cup qualifying match. The situation arose when the regional governing body used the 2007 South Pacific Games, as the first stage of the qualification tournament for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and qualification tournament for the 2008 OFC Nations Cup. Tuvalu performed with great credit, earning a remarkable 1–1 draw with Tahiti in which Viliamu Sekifu became as the first World cup scorer for his country.

Despite their complicated relationship with FIFA, we hope that one day Tuvalu can realise their dream and join FIFA.

Author: Alex Scott

Currently doing as much freelance journalism work as possible. Avid football fan and player currently at Penrith Academy.

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