Fédération Tahitienne de Football
With 146 clubs and over 11,200 registered players, football is far and away the most popular sport among the 245,405 inhabitants on the island of Tahiti. Marama Vahirua is Tahiti’s most famous footballers, having made a name for himself in France with first division club Nantes, he made his international debut in 2013 at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil.
Fédération Tahitienne de Football (FTF) was founded in 1989 under the leadership of Napolean Spitz and went on to become affiliated with FIFA in 1990 and a member of OFC the same year. Major successes for Tahitian football have included the territory’s first ever qualification to a FIFA finals in 2008 when the U-20 national team became champions of Oceania. Tahiti’s performances at other age-group level tournaments have been encouraging while their club representatives are competitive in regional competitions.
Papeete-based club AS Tefana reached the final of the 2012 OFC Champions League (formerly the O-League) but one of the French territory’s proudest moment on the international stage arrived shortly afterwards when coach Eddy Etaeta led the national team to a historic title triumph at the 2012 OFC Nations Cup. The win made Tahiti the first Pacific Island nation outside of Australia or New Zealand to become champions of Oceania and earned a place at the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil. They then topped this when they laid claim to the silver medal at the 2015 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Portugal, becoming the first Pacific Island nation to contest a FIFA World Cup final in the process. Locally, FTF continues to run a well-organised club structure that includes divisions catering for all age-groups and genders.
Tahiti celebrated its FIFA Goal Project in Pirae at the OFC Extraordinary Congress in 2006 with a series of mini-pitch facilities as OFC marked its 40th Anniversary. The territory hosted the hugely successful FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in 2013, yet another milestone for the region as they became the first Pacific Island nation to host a FIFA tournament.