Only One UN-Recognized Nation Has No Soccer Team

The Marshall Islands aims to change that, as ESPN explains
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2023 1:00 PM CDT
Only One UN-Recognized Nation Has No Soccer Team
An aerial photo shows a small section of Majuro Atoll in the Marshall Islands, in 2015.   (AP Photo/Rob Griffith, File)

An ESPN story about the Marshall Islands begins with an unusual stat: This nation of 60,000 people, five islands, and 30 atolls just happens to be only UN-recognized country without a national soccer team. However, a Marshallese entrepreneur named Shem Livai aims to change that. The story by Tom Hamilton explains that Livai formed the Marshall Islands Soccer Federation in 2020, which has since hired its first director—a UK man named Lloyd Owers who has yet to set foot on the remote islands, which lie between Australia and Hawaii in the Pacific. They've also got a head of marketing, a press chief, and a deal with a company that makes team uniforms. Now all they need is a team.

The story digs into the staggering logistics involved with assembling one in such a far-flung locale, or at least one legitimate enough to receive recognition by the world soccer body FIFA. (It might involve tapping into players who live in the US or elsewhere.) And then there's this: Hamilton notes that climate models project that 40% of the capital island of Majuro will be underwater by 2030, and part of the team's mission will be raising awareness. "The ocean is encroaching on our backyards and eroding our land," Livai says. "Trees are falling into the ocean because of the rising levels." Read the full story, which also details the islands' pivotal role in World War II and as a nuclear testing site, all of which helps explain why US influence remains so prominent in the nation. (Or read other longform stories.)

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