Are San Marino The Worst Team in International Football? 

An introduction

To get straight to the point right at the beginning of the article, we feel like It is not quite fair to say that San Marino is the worst team in international football.

While the team has had limited success on the international stage, ranking 203rd out of 210 teams in the FIFA world rankings as of September 2021, it is not quite accurate to say that they are the worst team in the world. 

Football is a team sport and the outcome of any given match depends on a variety of factors, including the strength and skill of the players, the strategy and tactics employed by the team, and the overall level of preparation and execution.

There are many variables that can affect the performance of a team, and it is not fair to single out any one team as the worst based on their results alone.

San Marino is one of the smallest countries in Europe

San Marino is a small sovereign state located in Europe, with a population of just over 34,000 people. Even though it might sound a bit strange at first, San Marino has a long history of football, with the first recorded match taking place all the way back in 1930. However, despite its long footballing heritage, San Marino has struggled to find success on the international stage.

One of the main reasons for San Marino’s struggles in international football is, as we just mentioned, its small size and population. This small population size means that there is a limited pool of talent to choose from when selecting the national team. As a result, the national team is often comprised of semi-professional or amateur players who lack the experience and skill of their opponents. 

Are San Marino The Worst Team in International Football? 

It’s also worth noting that size doesn’t always matter. A good example here would be China. A country with a population of a little bit over 1,4 billion people has invested quite heavily into football over the past decade, with little to no success. Compare that to, let’s say, the Netherlands, a country with strong football heritage that only has a population of around 17,5 million people, and you can get the idea why sometimes it might work for “smaller countries”.

Resources and infrastructure

Another factor contributing to San Marino’s struggles is the country’s lack of resources and infrastructure. Unlike larger countries with professional leagues and well-established football academies, San Marino does not have the same level of resources available to develop and train its players. This lack of resources can make it difficult for the national team to compete against opponents that are stronger on paper.

Again, despite all these challenges, it would be unfair to say that San Marino is the worst team in international football. While the team has struggled in the past, they have had some notable victories and have shown improvement in recent years.

In 2019, the team recorded its first win in a competitive match in over 20 years, defeating Moldova 1:0 in a UEFA European Championship qualifier. Additionally, the team has shown improvement in other matches, such as a 0-0 draw against Luxembourg in a World Cup qualifier in 2021.

Other teams that would fit into this category

As briefly mentioned at the beginning, it is not productive or fair to label any national team as “the worst” as the quality of a team can vary significantly based on many factors such as the pool of players available, the resources and support provided to the team, and the level of competition in their region. Moreover, the performance of a national team can also fluctuate over time and can be affected by injuries, retirements, and other unexpected events.

That being said, some national teams may have had more challenging histories or have faced more difficult competition, which may have resulted in them not performing as well as other teams in the past. However, it is important to recognize that every team, regardless of their past performance, has the potential to improve and achieve success.

San Marino has always played all of their competitive games against European opponents. With that being said, even though they are currently at the bottom of the list, it would be unfair to treat them as the worst team ever, since they have never faced the lowest rated teams on other continents. Europe and South America are without a doubt two best footballing continents in the world. If San Marino was part of, let’s say, Central America, the competition there would be somewhat less harsh, and San Marino would most likely draw or even win more often than they currently do in Europe.

Let’s take a quick look at other countries that are close to San Marino on the FIFA ranking list. As we just mentioned, San Marino is currently 211th out of 211 countries on the list. Four national teams above them are:

  • Anguilla,
  • British Virgin Islands, 
  • US Virgin Islands,
  • Sri Lanka 


While San Marino may not be the most successful team in international football, it would be unfair to label them as the worst team. The country’s small size and limited resources have certainly played a role in their struggles, but the national team has demonstrated improvement and determination in recent years. It is important to remember that football is a team sport and success is not solely determined by victories on the pitch.