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Why These Four Countries Are The Only Ones Not Trying To Qualify For The World Cup

Yesterday, the road to the 2014 World Cup kicked off with the first AFC qualifying round. (Technically, Montserrat and Belize played their first match two weeks ago, in Trinidad and Tobago because Montserrat doesn't have an acceptable stadium. The game drew 100 spectators.)

There are 208 member nations on FIFA's globe. This math differs from other international organizations: constituent countries like Scotland and Curaçao are represented by national teams. Meanwhile some sovereign and disputed nations, like the Vatican or Western Sahara, are not. But of those 208, Brazil automatically qualifies as hosts. (Defending champion Spain does not, a rule that has been in place beginning with 2006 qualifying.)


Of the remaining teams, there are only four in this whole wide world of ours that aren't attempting to qualify, for various reasons.


In a nation of 400,000 people, the Brunei Football Association oversees just 2,500 semi-professional players. In their only attempt at World Cup qualification, in 2002, they lost all three games they played, getting outscored 28 goals to zero. Included was a 12-0 home loss to the UAE.


In 2008, the Brunei Football Association (which has a Hotmail email account) was suspended by FIFA due to unacceptable government control of the body. They were reinstated just last month, well after the deadline to register for 2014 qualifying.



A US Territory, Guam's national team only joined FIFA in 1996. They did not win a game until a 1-0 squeaker over Mongolia in 2009.


In 2006 qualifying, Guam moved to the second round of via a forfeit, but withdrew from the competition claiming they wanted to focus on building their team at home. Few bought the excuse, and in 2010, they withdrew before playing a game for financial reasons. Essentially, the Guam Football Association is not prepared to lose money by sending their team to play overseas in a game they cannot win. This time around, they didn't even bother to pretend.



The Bhutan Football Federation only joined FIFA in 2000, around the same time as the country began to institute democratic reforms. The country's first democratic elections took place in 2008, so there have been more important matters than soccer to deal with. (Although the national team did chalk up a win over previously-mentioned Montserrat, earning Montserrat the unofficial title of "worst soccer nation.")


Bhutan initially registered for 2010 qualifiers, but withdrew because they would not have a stadium ready in time. A culture of soccer has yet to take hold in a country where archery is the national sport, and Bhutan did not enter 2014 qualifying.



I know what you're saying. You're saying, "isn't Mauritania part of the CAF draw to be held next month which will determine their opponents in qualifying?" Actually, that's Mauritius. Stupid.


Mauritania is one of the poorest, least stable nations in Africa. A military strongman seized power in 2008 and had himself "elected" president a year later. So, despite attempting qualification for the last four World Cups, they will not be trying again this time around.

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