Official name: Union of the Comoros
Independent since 1975
Geography: volcanic archipelago off the coastline of Tanzania and Mozambique in the Indian Ocean. It consists of three islands: Grande Comore (Nzazidja), Anjouan (Nzwani) and Moheli (Mwali)
Population: 670,000 inhabitants
Languages: Shikomoro, French, Arabic, Swahili
"Football is the dominant sport in Comoros," explains Salim Tourki, the President of the country's football association. "Our admission to FIFA will be a big event back home, because if the quality of football isn't improving, it's only due to a lack of infrastructure. Our athletes are remarkable but, without facilities, how can they express themselves?"
The Comoros FA was set up in 1979 under the aegis of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and the decisive moment came in 1984, when the clubs of the three islands met at a general assembly to elect a President and an executive committee of nine members.
But despite having the best intentions, the Comoran government has struggled to help the development of football in the country. Indeed, for a number of years now, it has been thanks to the work of Salim Tourki (elected in 1997 and re-elected in 2000 and 2004) that Comoros' footballing infrastructure and a certain level of competitiveness have been maintained.
Today, Comoros has three divisions based on a system of promotion and relegation. The first division is divided into three sections to accommodate the country's geographical situation: the island of Grande Comore has a league of 14 clubs, Anjouan 12 and Moheli 8. At the end of the season, the leading clubs on each island compete in a triangular tournament for the title of the champions of Comoros.
Without significant resources, organising a football competition on the archipelago has often posed a challenge. "When we created the Comoros Cup, I didn't have the means to pay for an aeroplane for the teams," says Tourki. "I brought them over by boat, hoping that gate receipts would cover the costs. I ended up out of pocket."
The hope now is that Comoran football will be able to move forward thanks to their admission to FIFA and their membership of CAF (African Confederation of Football), which they joined in 2003. According to FIFA special envoy Jean-Michel Bénézet, first on the agenda will be the construction of a national stadium worthy of the name and capable of hosting big games. "The stadium in Moroni is not satisfactory. It's too antiquated and since it's stuck between private housing and a hydrocarbon storehouse it can't be renovated. So to meet the minimum standards required today, I've recommended a site in Chamlé."
It is an analysis shared by Tourki, who is delighted that the organising body of world football has taken Comoros under its wing and is ready to provide some much-needed assistance.