The first Somali football teams were established in the 1940s. The competitions were basic in structure, and were associated with the anti-colonial movement. The Somali Youth League (SYL), the nation's first political party, had put together a team of local youth to play against the Italian expatriate teams. The football squad the SYL had assembled, which would later change its name to Bondhere, won the first several competitions. In 1951, the Somali Football Federation (SFF) was founded. The first Somali commissioner for sport was later established in 1958.
Although the Somali national football team took part in preliminary matches, it has never qualified for the final stages of a World Cup. For many years after the outbreak of the civil war in the early 1990s, FIFA-sanctioned games could not be played within the country. Qualifying matches for the Africa Cup of Nations, the Arab Nations Cup and the World Cup were instead contested away from home. However, following the pacification of the capital Mogadishu in 2011, the SFF began preparations for the first major sporting event to be held in years at the Mogadishu Stadium, in December 2012.