How the Cayman Islands Became a FIFA Power

It might seem unlikely that FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, has spent $2.2 million since 2002 to build a new headquarters for the soccer association and to fund two planned fields, given that the land is swampy and a grass field struggled to exist in brackish conditions.

FIFA’s generosity might seem even more improbable, considering that the Cayman Islands, a Caribbean tax and tourist haven, is ranked 191st among the world’s 209 national soccer teams. The team has never played in a World Cup. And the entire population of the islands, about 58,000, would not come close to filling the world’s biggest soccer stadiums.

While $2.2 million seems peanut for the FIFA, there’s a twist to it :

Seven years later, though, the first field remains weeks away from completion. Plans for a dormitory and a gym have not materialized. A final grant, for $500,000 in March 2014, was for the installation of artificial turf, FIFA noted on its website, because “the current grass field cannot survive in the low-level saltwater environment.”

→ The New York Times