The Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, encompassing 12,000 people and an area of just over 16 square miles, is lobbying FIFA for full soccer status. Its Prime Minister Apisai Ielemia, and the President of the Tuvalu Football Association, Tapugao Falefou, recently visited FIFA HQ on a detour from Brussels for a chat about its candidature.
Falefou said soccer is "the number one sport" in Tuvalu, and that "almost everybody plays." Its Premier League boasts nine clubs, and "this year we've made a start on counting the number of people playing the game, but it's a tricky task and it must be understood that our Association relies totally on volunteer workers. We would need several full-time employees."
The national team played in the the qulaifying round for the South Pacific Games, explained PM Ielemia. "We're still learning, but we can't be satisfied with our results: we got off to a really bad start against Fiji (16-0), though we went on to only lose 1-0 against New Caledonia, after keeping them at bay for half the game, and then we got a draw against Tahiti (1-1). They are two strong Pacific sides so it's a good omen." Joining FIFA would allow the nation to pay for a coach for its national team. "If we had one, I'm sure we'd make a great deal of progress."
When FIFA elects a new president, each member country has one vote.