Toe Poke Daily: Football in The Vatican? World's weirdest football leagues

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While the Premier League and the Champions League continue to pull in unfathomably large audiences, it's worth remembering that football also continues to exist outside the elite bubble.

However many millions may obsess over the polished superstars of the game, there are countless more amateurs from all walks of life in every far-flung corner of the world who just play for the sheer love of it.

Here we take a look at some of the more unlikely football leagues being contested here, there, and indeed, everywhere.


Talk about getting things done in one fell swoop. Due to the lack of daylight, Greenland are forced to squeeze an entire domestic football season into a single week.

Once a year, six teams from around the country meet in the town of Sisimiut (several travelling together by boat) and play a condensed six-day tournament to ascertain the Greenlandic Soccer champions.

All of the games -- played on a single pitch on the western shore -- are broadcast on Greenland's national television network.

However, for what the Greenland football season gives up in terms of longevity, it certainly makes up for by being arguably the most picturesque in the world.

Isles of Scilly

The Cornwall FA-affiliated league is officially recognised as the smallest in the world with only two teams, the Garrison Gunners and the Woolpack Wanderers, playing each other 20 times a season on the archipelago off the coast of south-western England.

There are also two separate cup competitions and a "charity shield" to kick off the campaign each year, as well as friendlies against local amateur teams from the mainland -- including a regular exhibition against a team of bird watchers.

Indeed, the Scilly league has actually halved in size since its formation, when four teams from three islands competed against each other for glory.

However, due to dwindling populations, four teams were reduced to two in the 1950s: the Rangers and the Rovers, who subsequently became the Gunners and the Wanderers in the 1980s.

Despite their diminutive status, the teams have still attracted some big names to their shared pitch over the years, with David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Patrick Vieira and Michael Ballack all gracing the St Mary's field in 2008 as part of the Adidas "Dream Big" campaign.


Formally established in 1992, the APL is thought to be the smallest top-flight league in all of European football.

Not long ago it consisted of just six teams, but now the league has a full complement of nine clubs, six of which are based in the capital city of Yerevan.

This comes after the Armenian Football Federation took deliberate steps in 2016 to quickly bolster their numbers and prevent FIFA from revoking their professional status.

Added to that, there is also now a second tier that has 12 teams, though many are simply second and third reserve sides belonging to first-division clubs.

The biggest name in the APL is arguably 14-time champions Pyunik, though they are without a title since 2014-15 and lost to Premier League side Wolves 8-0 on aggregate in this season's third Europa League qualifying round.

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The domestic football league in the Australian island state of Tasmania is most notable for having one of the strangest structures in the world.

The top flight, the Tasmanian NPL, consists of eight teams who start each season by playing each other twice in a straight league format. The top six then play-off to be crowned overall NPL champions -- but only after being joined in the mix by the winners of the two regional divisions below them, the North and the South Leagues.

This means that every season there is always a distinct chance that a team who haven't played a single game of NPL football could be crowned grand NPL champions. It must have made sense to somebody at some point, but it still seems a little unfair.

Vatican City

It may be the smallest sovereign state on Earth with a population of just 1,000 or so people, but Vatican City boasts a comprehensive football calendar.

There is the Vatican City Championship, a league founded in 1972 and contested between the Vatican's various state departments -- museum staff, police, the Swiss Guard, hospital workers, etc.

There are also two cup competitions that run in tandem with the league -- the Coppa Sergio Valci (named after the former head of the FA), and the Vatican Supercoppa, which pits the league winners against the winners of the cup.

However, since 2007, the Clericus Cup has been the one to win, if only because the trophy is blessed by the Pope himself.

The Clericus Cup is contested annually by teams made up of student priests drawn from various Catholic colleges around the world, from Rome to Brazil.

It is also famed for eschewing red and yellow cards in favour of utilising a "blue card," that sees players sin-binned rather than expelled.

United Nations

As well as the incredibly important work they do in often hostile environments around the world, several factions of the United Nations also take part in an internal football league.

Based at the organisation's headquarters in New York, the UN Staff Recreation Council Soccer Club hosts an eight-team league made up of departmental sides.

The Nomadic -- a team representing the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs -- are currently topping the 2019 autumn table, narrowly ahead of the curiously named Mighty Snails on goal difference. Mighty Snails are no slouches, mind -- they are the reigning champions.

In the general spirit of peace and understanding, slide tackles are strictly prohibited.

Sub concedes penalty before even coming on to play

There were strange scenes down in the German second tier over the weekend as Holstein Kiel conceded one of the most ridiculous penalties in recent memory.

The fault quite literally lies at the encroaching feet of substitute Michael Eberwein, who still managed to make his presence felt despite being yet to make his debut for the club.

The incident (which was missed by the referee but picked up by VAR) came when Eberwein, who was warming up behind the goal, stopped a ball from crossing the Kiel goal-line before it had fully trundled out of play.

Unfortunately, rules dictate that should a sub interfere with play, the ref must give a direct free-kick or a penalty.

As Eberwein's touch was inside the 18-yard box, a penalty was awarded to opponents VfL Bochum, with Silvere Ganvoula duly stepping up to convert and draw his side level at 1-1.

Thankfully Eberwein's blushes were ultimately spared as Kiel went on to win 2-1, leaving them joint-fifth in the 2. Bundesliga table.

Croatian side scores while opponents celebrate

Spare a thought for Croatian side Slaven Koprivnica, who thought they'd managed to score against league leaders Hajduk Split only to concede in calamitous circumstances.

Koprivnica, who are rock bottom of the First Football League, began celebrating en masse in the mistaken belief that they'd equalised against Hajduck.

Unfortunately, it was actually lunging Hajduk goalkeeper Josip Posavec who ended up in the back of the net, not the ball -- but that didn't stop Koprivnica from assuming otherwise.

So while their opponents were busy frolicking merrily, Hajduk rather ruthlessly played on, charged quickly up the field and tucked away their second goal of the afternoon against minimal resistance.

Indeed, the Koprivnica keeper was already over by the dugouts by the time he realised his team hadn't actually scored.

Hajduk went on to win 2-0 while their opposition on the day remain rooted to the foot of the table.