Former Fédération Calédonienne de Football (FCF) President Claude Fournier was encouraged to pursue full FIFA membership for the French territory and in May 2004 that became a reality when New Caledonia was welcomed as the 205th member of FIFA during the 54th FIFA Congress in Paris.
The French territory of some 280,000 people was accepted as a member of OFC in the same year and has already shown its mettle in the region at a variety of levels including runners-up placings at the OFC Nations Cup in 2008 and 2012; they have also collected numerous gold medals at the Pacific Games.
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 success at the 1998 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2000 with France. A number of other players have also made their way in professional football in France.
In recent years, New Caledonia has shown its ability to compete in a variety of OFC competitions including football, futsal and beach soccer. They have strong youth structures in place to ensure they are competitive at all levels in men’s and women’s competitions.
In October 2017, New Caledonia made its first appearance at a major global tournament when they attended the FIFA U-17 World Cup in India.
As fate would have it, they opened the tournament against the French U-17 team. While they were unable to advance to the knockout stages, they did earn their first FIFA point when they drew 1-1 with Japan in their final pool game.
In May 2019, the Hienghène Sport club created history when they became the first New Caledonian team to win the OFC Champions League.
As part of a landmark night for the game in New Caledonia they beat countrymen Magenta in the final in front of a packed Stade Numa-Daly Magenta in Noumea.
Hienghène Sport went on to represent OFC at the FIFA Club World Cup in December 2019 and ran Qatar club side Al Sadd close but were eventually beaten 3-1 in extra time in the first round match.
It was part of a busy year for the game in New Caledonia as they also hosted the OFC Futsal Nations Cup in November where they finished fourth.