Let us talk about the top 10 list of the worst soccer and football countries in 2024. When it comes to soccer or football, some countries, like Brazil and Germany, are known for their winning traditions, star players, and beautiful style of play.
However, not every country excels at the world’s most popular sport. Several nations consistently underperform and fail to qualify for major tournaments.
In this article, I will highlight some of the top 10 worst footballing countries based on their lack of success historically and recently.
Factors like small population size, little funding for the sport, or even general apathy towards soccer contribute to these countries’ poor showings time and again.
The worst countries at football/soccer are:
1. San Marino
San Marino’s national football team faces the tough reality of being the lowest-ranked FIFA-affiliated team, currently in 210th place.
Since 1990, they’ve struggled in European Championships and World Cup qualifiers without a single win, except for a rare victory against Liechtenstein in 2004.
Their games often end with an average of 4.2 goals conceded, highlighting their underdog status in UEFA competitions.
Despite these hardships, they’ve shown occasional resilience, such as a 0–0 draw against Estonia in 2014, ending a long losing streak.
Recent years have brought modest achievements, with San Marino scoring in consecutive Euro 2024 qualifying matches.
2. Turks and Caicos Islands
The Turks and Caicos Islands football team has faced difficulties in international competitions, especially in FIFA World Cup qualifications. Since joining FIFA in 1998, they have struggled, facing defeats like the 14-0 loss to St. Kitts and Nevis in 2000.
Although they secured their first World Cup qualification win in 2008 against Saint Lucia, subsequent eliminations showed inconsistency. Despite efforts to improve infrastructure, like building the Turks and Caicos National Stadium in 2007, the team had a victory drought until 2014, affecting their FIFA rankings.
Recent results in the CONCACAF Nations League indicate ongoing challenges, with losses like the 3–0 defeat to Dominica in September 2023. The team’s FIFA ranking is low, currently at 206 as of December 2023.
Looking at player stats, Billy Forbes stands out with 30 caps and 18 goals, but the overall squad faces difficulties, as seen in their records against different teams.
The team’s historical performance in the FIFA World Cup and CONCACAF Gold Cup and limited success in the Caribbean Cup highlight the tough journey for the Turks and Caicos Islands football team.
Bhutan’s national football team consistently ranks among the lowest globally. As of December 2023, they’re at 184th, reaching highs of 159 in June 2015 and lows of 209 in November 2014–March 2015. Despite a 2008 SAFF Championship semi-final, subsequent performances dropped them to 209th.
Since their 1982 debut against Nepal, Bhutan’s biggest win was 6–0 against Guam in 2003, while their worst was a 20–0 loss to Kuwait in 2000.
The team participated in regional competitions like the SAFF Championship and AFC Challenge Cup, but success has been limited. In eight SAFF appearances, their best was the 2008 semi-finals; their lone AFC Challenge Cup appearance ended in the group stage in 2006.
Bhutan’s football journey included only six competitive wins by November 2017, with a goal difference of −279. They never qualified for major tournaments, relying on friendlies and qualifiers for international exposure.
Despite adversity, Bhutan’s football culture has evolved since the 1950s, introduced by foreign teachers. However, the early national team, mostly foreigners, left a talent gap upon returning home.
FIFA rankings fluctuated, reaching 163rd in April 2015 after beating Sri Lanka. However, struggles in World Cup qualifying matches dropped them to 185th by November 2017.
Though the Bhutan national team experienced success in the 1980s, Bhutan struggled, marked by a 19-game losing streak starting in 2010.
Financial challenges, like withdrawing player payments, contributed to a drop in form. Leading players retired due to insufficient income. Bhutan showed hope in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualification with a draw and a victory but ended with four straight losses, including a 10–0 defeat to Palestine.
In the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification, Bhutan faced elimination, losing 5-1 on aggregate to Guam despite winning the first leg.
The Anguilla national football team faces tough times, consistently ranking among the world’s lowest teams in FIFA. As of October 2023, they’re in 206th place globally, making them one of the two lowest-ranked teams.
Their historical FIFA ranking ranges from 189 (June–September 1997) to 210 (November 2019–March 2022). However, they have never qualified for the FIFA World Cup or the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Their biggest win was 4-1 against Montserrat in 2001, while their biggest defeat was a huge 15-0 loss to Trinidad and Tobago in 2019.
Though they entered the World Cup qualifiers in 2002, they faced early eliminations in later attempts. Their overall World Cup qualification record shows 41 goals conceded, no wins, one draw, and nine losses from ten matches.
Despite efforts in the CONCACAF Nations League, recent performances show a struggle. In the 2023–24 Nations League, Anguilla faced defeats against Saint Martin, Saint Lucia, Bonaire, and a massive 13–0 loss to Panama.
With changing coaches and mostly domestic players, the team faces ongoing challenges. Lack of success in major tournaments and consistent struggles in World Cup qualifiers highlight the uphill battle Anguilla’s national football team faces on the global stage.
5. British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands football team holds the 207th position in the FIFA rankings as of December 2023. Their highest rank was 160 in March 2000, and they suffered a significant 17-0 defeat against the Dominican Republic in 2010.
In World Cup qualifiers, they were eliminated by St. Lucia in 2006 and faced difficulties in subsequent attempts. Recent 2023 matches in the CONCACAF Nations League resulted in losses to Puerto Rico and a draw with Dominica.
The team’s coaching history has seen changes, and players like Troy Caesar and Carlos Septus have contributed.
They haven’t qualified for the FIFA World Cup or participated in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. In the Nations League, they struggled initially but showed a slight improvement in the 2022–23 season.
Aruba’s national football team currently has a FIFA rank of 193 (December 2023). They reached a high of 112 in 2015 but hit a low of 205 in 2021.
The national team’s biggest wins include an 8-1 victory against Suriname (1946) and a 7-0 victory over the British Virgin Islands (2014). However, they suffered an 11-0 loss to Trinidad and Tobago in 1989, which was their biggest loss.
Aruba hasn’t qualified for the FIFA World Cup or CONCACAF Gold Cup, struggling in the early rounds of World Cup qualifiers since 1998. In the 2014 Caribbean Cup prelims, wins against Turks and Caicos (1–0) and the British Virgin Islands (7–0) briefly boosted them to 120th in FIFA rankings. Despite progress, losses, like a 2-0 defeat against French Guiana, led to elimination.
Recent World Cup attempts saw mixed results. They got a 3-0 win against Barbados due to an ineligible player but were later ousted by Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Their 2022 World Cup bid ended with a 4th place finish in the first round.
The coaching history, featuring managers from various countries, reflects ongoing efforts for improvement. With Marvic Bermúdez in charge since 2022, Aruba continues to strive for better international football performance.
7. American Samoa
The American Samoa men’s national football team has faced considerable challenges, earning a reputation as one of the world’s weakest teams. With a current FIFA ranking of 188 (as of December 21, 2023), they have consistently struggled, reaching their lowest ranking of 205 in May 2006.
Their journey includes notable defeats, such as the infamous 31-0 loss to Australia in 2001, setting a world record for the largest margin of victory in international football.
This result prompted discussions on qualification tournament formats and led to changes in the Oceanian zone qualification for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
Despite a period of stagnation, American Samoa recorded their first FIFA-recognized win in November 2011, defeating Tonga 2-1 during the qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
However, their overall performance has been characterized by challenges, including a scarcity of eligible players due to citizenship regulations.
The requirement for a US passport in competitions like the Pacific Games limits player availability, putting them at a disadvantage compared to other Pacific territories.
The team achieved its highest FIFA ranking in October 2015, reaching 164th after consecutive wins against Tonga and the Cook Islands during the qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Still, the team has struggled with consistency, facing obstacles such as a hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which impacted their participation in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification.
As of December 2023, Montserrat ranks 176th in FIFA, with fluctuations over the years, hitting a low of 206th in 2011–2012.
In the World Cup qualifiers since 2002, Montserrat consistently faces early eliminations. Their biggest defeat was in 2004 against Bermuda, with a substantial 13–0 loss. Conversely, their most notable win was in 2012 against the British Virgin Islands, securing a 7-0 victory in the Caribbean Championship qualifying match in Martinique.
Challenges arose due to volcanic activity from 1995 to 2010, limiting their match opportunities, mainly played away. Despite forming in 1973, the team’s first senior match in 1991 resulted in a 3–0 defeat against Saint Lucia.
Positive changes came in 2018 with Willie Donachie’s arrival and the CONCACAF Nations League launch. They won three of four qualifying games, narrowly missing qualification for the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Despite not advancing to the top tier, they secured second place in their group during the inaugural season.
Recent coaching changes, including Lee Bowyer’s appointment in 2022, showed improvement. Montserrat secured a 99th-minute winner against Barbados in their first game under Bowyer, moving to second place in their Concacaf Nations League group.
Throughout their history, Montserrat’s FIFA rankings reflected their challenging journey. “The Other Final” against Bhutan in 2002 saw them fall to the lowest rank of 203rd, becoming the worst-ranked side globally.
The Bahamas national football team, despite its long-standing presence in CONCACAF since 1967, has struggled to make a mark in international soccer.
Currently ranked 202nd in the FIFA rankings as of December 2023, their highest ranking was 138 in September 2006, while they hit their lowest at 210 from September 2018 to July 2019.
The team’s debut in the 1970 Central American and Caribbean Games set a challenging tone with losses against Puerto Rico, Netherlands Antilles, and Venezuela.
Over the years, they faced numerous setbacks, including a historic 13-0 defeat to Mexico in 1987 and failed attempts at World Cup qualification in the 1990s and 2000s.
Their biggest win, a 6-0 victory over the Turks and Caicos Islands in 2011, contrasts sharply with their biggest loss against Mexico in 1987.
Despite occasional victories, like the 1971 Pan American Games and the 1974 Central American and Caribbean Games, the team struggled to progress beyond group stages or preliminary rounds in subsequent competitions.
Additionally, the Bahamas withdrew from the 1998 World Cup qualification, allowing Saint Kitts and Nevis to advance. In the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, after an impressive 10-0 aggregate win against the Turks and Caicos Islands, they withdrew due to stadium renovations.
In 2018, they faced an 8-0 aggregate loss to Bermuda, and in the first round of the 2022 World Cup qualification, they finished last, failing to score and conceding 15 goals.
10. Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s national football team has a FIFA ranking of 204 as of December 2023. While they achieved their highest ranking of 122 in August 1998, their lowest ranking of 207 in October 2022 highlights a decline in performance.
The team’s biggest win occurred in 2008 when they defeated Pakistan 7–1 in Taipei, Taiwan, and in 2009, they secured a 6–0 victory against Bhutan in Dhaka, Bangladesh. However, their biggest defeat dates back to 1964 when Ceylon (as it was known then) suffered a 1–12 loss to East Germany in Colombo.
Despite participating in 13 SAFF Championships since 1993, Sri Lanka’s standout achievement came in 1995 when they emerged as champions. In the AFC Challenge Cup, they reached the runners-up position in 2006. However, their attempts to qualify for FIFA World Cup or AFC Asian Cup finals remain unfulfilled.
The team’s struggle on the international stage is emphasized by their performance in the 2018 World Cup qualification, where they failed to progress after losses to Bhutan.
In the 2015 SAFF Championship, Sri Lanka reached the semi-finals but faced a series of disappointments, including a shock defeat by Mongolia in the Solidarity Cup.
In recent years, Sri Lanka faced challenges, including a draw against Lithuania in 2018 and a 0–1 loss to Macau, leading to qualification for the second round of the 2022 World Cup.
Additionally, they couldn’t compete with stronger opponents like South Korea, North Korea, Lebanon, and Turkmenistan.
The team’s coaching changes, with the appointment of Bosnian-Australian Amir Alagić and subsequent replacement by Scottish manager Andy Morrison, highlight efforts to improve performance. However, results remained unfavourable, and Sri Lanka faced a temporary suspension in 2023 due to government interference in football.
The ban was lifted, allowing them to participate in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualification, where they faced a 3–0 defeat against Yemen.
Sri Lanka’s football struggles have been accompanied by concerns raised by FIFA President Sepp Blatter in 2014, emphasizing the need for improved development and support for football on the island.
Sri Lanka has a rich football history dating back to British colonial times, with evidence of the sport’s popularity and the formation of local clubs. The Sugathadasa Stadium in Colombo has been a significant venue for the national team, witnessing their triumph in the 1995 SAFF Championship.