Football is without doubt the most popular sport in the world; it is played in more countries than any other sport.
Interestingly, some of the teams that have participated in international footballing events over the years weren’t even proper countries in the strictest sense of the world.
In fact, the various political rearrangements of countries has led to interesting situations where certain countries have participated in international football tournaments only once before they divided into entirely different countries or even joined other countries.
- Football fans in the United Kingdom are well aware of this fact since there is no team that represents this country in FIFA events. Instead, there are teams from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- The Dutch East Indies took part in the 1938 World Cup football, but were unable to put on a good showing, losing 0-6 to Hungary. Within 7 years, the territory had proclaimed independence from Holland and taken the name Indonesia.
- The breakup of the Soviet Union led to the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States. A team from the Commonwealth took part in 1992’s European Championships, but it soon split to create a new country Russia.
- Serbia and Montenegro took part in the 2006 World Cup during a tumultuous time in the country’s history. While the team had a terrible time during the tournament, the country split into two about a week before the tournament started. Subsequently, both parts, Serbia and Montenegro, take part separately.
- The CONCACAF Gold Cup, also known as Copa de Oro de la CONCACAF in Spanish, and meant for countries in North and Central America and the Caribbean, has many teams that fall into the non nation states category. They include Martinique and Guadeloupe, both part off the Lesser Antilles and both overseas regions of France. French Guiana is another overseas region of France that takes part in international football events. Other participants from this region include the US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. Curaçao and Aruba have also taken part in football tournaments even though they are Dutch territories.
- The OFC Nations Cup, organised by the Oceania Football Confederation, has as a member the French Collectivity called New Caledonia as well as a United States territory called American Samoa. Tahiti has also participated in this football event and as a semiautonomous region with ties to France; it too can be called a non nation state.
- The Faroe Islands are a Danish territory that lies a mere 360 miles from Scotland. Similarly, Gibraltar is a British overseas territory that lies near Spain. Both these territories have football teams of their own which have taken part in major UEFA tournaments.