Iceland are well and truly ready for the World Cup this summer. Their President and First Lady helped launch Team Iceland to encourage the entire globe to get behind the tournament’s smallest participating nation. Apart from officially declaring your support for this mightily impressive football team, you can find out your Icelandic name, and even win a trip to one of the most stunning countries in the world.
Although Iceland were in France for the last Euros, this is the first time that they have qualified for the World Cup. For a nation with a population of 340,000 – that’s less than Bradford – this is unchartered territory, for them, and for the tournament. Not only are they the smallest nation to qualify for this year’s tournament, they are the smallest to qualify for the World Cup in its 88 year existence. Uruguay, a country with a rich footballing tradition and two World Cup titles to their name, are the second smallest at Russia 2018, but have a population of 3.4 million, ten times that of Iceland.
Iceland’s first game sees them face two time champions Argentina on the 16th June and, as it stands, it’s the only game at the tournament to be already sold out. The campaign hopes to give football fans from all over the globe the chance to take part in arguably the world’s biggest sporting event. Already, over 13,000 people have pledged their allegiance to Gylfi Sigurðsson, Aron Gunnarsson and co. across every corner of the planet, from Alaska to Australia. Even some Argentines have got behind them, despite the conflict of interest.
In total, there have been pledges from 131 countries so far. For many, support has come through their own side failing to qualify and looking for an alternative to cheer on. Iceland’s group looks a tricky one to navigate, with Nigeria and Croatia joining themselves and Argentina, but given how they performed two years ago, you wouldn’t put it past them making it to the second round. At the Euros they secured draws against eventual winners Portugal and Hungary, before beating Austria, and knocking out England, before finally falling to the host nation. How far can they go in 2018?
Iceland’s group fixtures at Russia 2018:
16 June 2018: Argentina vs Iceland
22 June 2018: Nigeria vs Iceland
26 June 2018: Iceland vs Croatia
Get behind #TeamIceland here.