Much is made of the global appeal of football, with FIFA justifiably proud that there are more members of its organisation than there are of the UN: over 200 countries enter the World Cup competition.
What’s perhaps not quite as well known is that many of these nations who enter quickly exit the competition and it’s not surprising that many of these countries are Caribbean islands or micro-states. However it’s not only obscure countries that exit early. Of the thirteen most highly populated countries in the world seven had been knocked out of the 2014 World Cup before 2012 had even begun. China (1), India (2), Indonesia (4), Pakistan (6), Bangladesh (9), Philippines (12) and Vietnam (13) have seen their World Cup dreams shattered even before European qualifying for the tournament had begun.
As we head into 2012 it’s interesting to see that of the approx 6.8bn people who live in the planet only 3.2bn are represented by countries still in the 2014 World Cup with United States the most highly populated country on the planet still competing for a place in the finals. San Marino are the smallest country who have not yet been knocked out of the 2014 World Cup. The Sammarinese begin their qualification campaign at home to Montenegro in September.