Every four years, Canadians burst out in a rainbow of colours as soccer fans wave their favourite teams' flags during the World Cup.

But one flag is always missing: Canada’s.

Soccer fever grips Canada as intensely as it does most other countries of the world, yet Canadian soccer fans don't have a home team to cheer for.

Canada is tied with Bahrain for No. 110 on FIFA's international rankings, behind Moldova (101), Gabon (89) and Iceland (52).

Canada has only appeared in the World Cup once, back in 1986. However, interest in soccer amongst Canadians is among the highest in the world.

Not about population

If athletic success was linked to population, then Canada would be in the same class as many countries in the World Cup, if not well ahead of them.

The problem isn't a lack of interest. Canada ranks ninth in the world when it comes to registered athletes in soccer, according to a 2006 census conducted by FIFA. A reported 865,712 Canadian males and females were registered for organized soccer in 2006, which is more than World Cup finalist Argentina's 331,811. Germany tops the list with more than 6 million enrolled players, while the smallest soccer program with a World Cup entry was Cameroon, where only 22,045 people play organized soccer.

One in 39 Canadians is enrolled in soccer at some level, according to FIFA's statistics. That's slightly better than Italy's one-in-40, and much better than the one-in-72 rate in the United States. World Cup finalist Germany has the best enrollment at one soccer player for every 14 people, while South Korea's numbers are the worst at one for every 1,547 citizens.

So Canada has the money, the population and the soccer interest to hang with FIFA's big boys, yet it still lags behind.