Contributed by: Jake Anson
Fixtures involving Nauru have been omitted from a revised International Cup draw posted on afl.com.au, suggesting that the struggling Pacific nation has withdrawn from the competition.
The effect of this disappointing development is that the revised International Cup draw now includes 10 nations that will compete in a four-round league format including semi-finals and a grand final. With the pool system removed, the draw will no longer be lopsided as was scheduled following Denmark's earlier withdrawal.
Nauru's attendance at the Cup has been a matter of speculation for several months. As the only nation where Australian football is acknowledged as the national sport, Nauru's participation at the Cup is automatically assumed by many, though in recent years the island nation has fallen upon hard times and the current state of the Nauru Australian Football Association is difficult to gauge. The Nauruan economy has suffered a severe downturn over the past decade as the nation's phosphate reserves have been depleted, destroying their principal source of income and leaving the nation in virtual bankruptcy. This situation has no doubt made life in Nauru progressively more difficult for its citizens, and it is unknown what effects such a transition have had on the Australian football scene there.
However, one possible upside from Nauru's withdrawal is that it may bring about more intense International Cup competition. Under the revised system, the top four teams after four rounds will play off in semi-finals to determine the Cup finalists. It is conceivable that due to the limited league format, these four places might be decided by percentage only if two or more teams finish with the same number of wins. Teams finishing outside the top four will play amongst themselves to determine lower rankings.
Worldfootynews.com will bring you more news concerning Nauru's withdrawal as it occurs. Our editorial team, along with the international football community, hope that the situation there is not too desperate and that Australian football has not been a casualty of the difficult times the Nauruans currently face.
World Footy News