Former Fédération Calédonienne de Football (FCF) President Claude Fournier was encouraged to pursue full FIFA membership for the French territory by UEFA President Michel Platini and French Football Federation President Claude Simonet. In May 2004 that became reality when New Caledonia was welcomed as the 205th member of FIFA during the 54th FIFA Congress in Paris.
The French territory of some 240,000 people has already shown its mettle in Oceania at a variety of levels including runners-up placings at the OFC Nations Cup in 2008 and 2012. New Caledonia has also been successful in producing a number of top footballers who have gone on to play professionally overseas. Most notably, Lifou-native Christian Karembeu had a glittering 18-year career that included 1998 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2000 successes with France. The most recent success story is winger Georges Gope-Fenepej, who is part of the first-team squad at French Ligue 2 outfit Troyes.
A FIFA-approved artificial turf pitch opened in May 2008 and is one of several FIFA Goal Projects aimed at improving New Caledonia’s football infrastructure. The inauguration coincided with the OFC Youth Festival, Extraordinary Congress and Karembeu Jubilee which FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter attended. Phases two and three of the Goal Project, which involved the construction of a technical centre and an outside futsal facility, have now also been completed.
Away from the pitch, the territory hosted the 2013 Pacific Youth and Sports Conference, an OFC-led forum aimed at improving the lives of young people in the Pacific through sport, with the event being labelled a resounding success by stakeholders and participants.