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History of Caribbean Football Teams In The FIFA World Cup

Thirty-two men’s national association football teams from across the globe will soon be in Qatar to participate in the 2022 FIFA World Cup for national pride and glory. Unfortunately, no Caribbean Football Union association member has qualified to participate in this year’s billion-dollar tournament. In fact, since the original tournament held in Uruguay in 1930, only four Caribbean football teams have participated in what for many now is a month of delightful football madness. The four Caribbean football teams to participate in a FIFA World Cup competition held every four years since the inaugural tournament except in 1942 and 1946 due to the Second World War include Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, and Trinidad & Tobago.

CUBA in the FIFA World Cup – Quarterfinals (1938)

Cuba Football Association logoThe Cuba National Football Team was the first Caribbean football team to participate in the FIFA World Cup, which they did in 1938. Their qualification came about as a result of the decision to hold the third World Cup tournament in France.

The decision to hold the tournament in France was poorly received in the Americas, who felt the tournament should have returned to their side of the globe after the second one was held in Italy. Thus, all nations in South America except Brazil withdrew, and all CONCACAF nations except Cuba withdrew. Thus, the two qualified by default. The tournament was held as a straight knock-out tournament of 16 nations. Once the tournament got on the way, the Cuban team defeated Romania in a replay 2–1 after drawing against them 3–3. They were then eliminated in the quarter-finals by Sweden, 8–0. Cuba has not returned to the World Cup since. They have, however, finished second in the Caribbean Cup in 1996, 1999, and 2005 and won the 2012 Caribbean Cup.

HAITI in the FIFA World Cup – Round 1 (1974)

Haiti Football Association logoThe second Caribbean football team to participate in the FIFA World Cup was the Haiti National Football Team in 1974. Held in then West Germany, the Haitian team didn’t get beyond round one and has not made another appearance in the FIFA World Cup.

However, it should be noted that they surprised the football world in their debut game when star forward Emmanuel Sanon scored to give Haiti a lead over Italy, at the same time ending Dino Zoff’s still-standing record run of 1142 minutes without conceding a goal in international matches. They eventually lost 1–4 and would lose to Poland (0–7) and Argentina (1–4). Their most successful football tournament participation was winning the 2007 Caribbean Cup.  More recently, they have placed third in the 2012 and 2014 Caribbean Cup.

JAMAICA in the FIFA World Cup – Round 1 (1998)

Jamaica Football AssociationThe third Caribbean football team to participate in the FIFA World Cup was the Jamaica National Football Team in 1998. While this Jamaica team, like Haiti, didn’t get beyond round one of the tournaments held in France, Jamaica is the smallest nation to score in and win a FIFA World Cup game — two feats previously held by Northern Ireland since 1958 — when Robbie Earle scored the side’s only goal in a 3–1 defeat against Croatia and then beat Japan 2–1 at the 1998 World Cup, respectively.

Jamaica is also, along with the United States and Costa Rica, one of the rare teams from the Confederation of North, Central American, and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) region to draw against Mexico in the Estadio Azteca in a World Cup qualifier match. The Jamaica National Football Team has won the Caribbean Cup six times (1991, 1998, 2005, 2008, 2010 & 2014).

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO in the FIFA World Cup – Round 1 (2006)

Trinidad & Tobago Football AssociationThe fourth Caribbean football team to participate in the FIFA World Cup was the Trinidad & Tobago National Football Team, nicknamed the Soca Warriors, in 2006. During this tournament held in a united Germany, Trinidad & Tobago were grouped with England, Sweden, and Paraguay in Group B. They drew their first game 0–0 against Sweden despite going down to ten men early in the second half.

They then lost their remaining matches against England and Paraguay by a 2–0 margin. Based on this appearance, the team currently holds the record of being the smallest nation (both in size and population) to qualify for a FIFA World Cup. Outside of FIFA World Cup tournaments, the Trinidad & Tobago National Football Team has qualified for the CONCACAF Gold Cup on eight occasions, with their best performance in 2000 after reaching the semi-finals, finishing 3rd. The team has had even greater success in the Caribbean Cup, having won the sub-continental competition eight times (1989, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999 & 2001) and runners-up on five occasions (1991, 1998, 2007, 2012 & 2014).

Future of Caribbean Football Teams at the FIFA World Cup

Sadly no Caribbean football team has gotten close to raising the World Cup trophy in celebration, but we can only hope and dream.  Perhaps their chances would be improved if there was a Caribbean Professional Football League to further develop players in the region.

Since a proper football league in the Caribbean remains a work in progress, here is hoping this year’s FIFA World Cup tournament in Qatar will inspire the senior national teams in the region. The next FIFA World Cup takes place during the summer of 2026 and will be hosted jointly by Canada, Mexico, and the United States across sixteen cities.  Importantly, it will be the first FIFA World Cup to include forty-eight teams, expanded from thirty-two. 

The expanded number of teams at the 23rd FIFA World Cup will increase the odds of a Caribbean football team, a member of the Caribbean Football Union, making the tournament, as there will be six or seven teams from The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF).  Previously, it was just three CONCACAF teams that could qualify.  So fingers crossed, we will see one or more of the Caribbean football teams in the mix.   

Caribbean Football Teams that are members of the Caribbean Football Union, CONCACAF & FIFA

Most islands/countries within the Caribbean have a national football team organized by a football association.  Most are members of the three main football associations in the region, which include the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), CONCACAF, and FIFA.

  • The Caribbean Football Union (CFU) was established in January 1978 and represents 25 FIFA member nations in the Caribbean, as well as six territories that are not affiliated with FIFA.
  • The Confederation of North, Central America, and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) was established in September 1961 and is one of FIFA’s six continental governing bodies for association football. Its 41 member associations represent countries and territories mainly in North America, including the Caribbean and Central America.
  • Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) was founded in 1904 to oversee international competition among the national associations of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.   Membership has since expanded to include 211 national associations.
CountryFootball Association Year FoundedCFU StatusCONCACAF StatusFIFA Status
AnguillaAnguilla Football Association1990Member since 1996Member since 1996Member since 1996
Antigua & BarbudaAntigua and Barbuda Football Association1928Member since 1978Member since ???Member since 1972
ArubaArubaanse Voetbal Bond1932Member since 1988Member since 1986Member since 1988
The BahamasBahamas Football Association1967Member since 1978Member since ???Member since 1968
BarbadosBarbados Football Association1910Member since 1978Member since 1967Member since 1968
BelizeFootball Federation of Belize1980Non-MemberMember since 1986Member since 1986
BermudaBermuda Football Association1928Member since 1978Member since 1967Member since 1962
BonaireBonaire Football Federation1960Member since 2013Member since 2014Non-Member
The British Virgin IslandsBritish Virgin Islands Football Association1974Member since 1996Member since ???Member
Cayman IslandsCayman Islands Football Association1966Member since 1992Member since 1990Member since 1992
CubaAsociación de Fútbol de Cuba1924Member since 1978Member since 1961Member since 1929
CuracaoCuraçao Football Federation1921Member since 1978Member since 1961Member since 1932
DominicaDominica Football Association1970Member since 1994Member since 1994Member since 1994
Dominican RepublicDominican Football Federation1953Member since 1978Member since 1964Member since 1958
French GuianaLigue de Football de Guyanea1962Member since 1978Member since 2013Non-Member
GrenadaGrenada Football Association1924Member since 1978Member since 1978Member since 1978
GuadeloupeLigue Guadeloupéenne de Football1958Member since 1978Member since 2013Non-Member
GuyanaGuyana Football Federation1902Member since 1978Member since ???Member since 1970
HaitiHaitian Football Federation1904Member since 1978Member since 1961Member since 1934
JamaicaJamaica Football Federation1910Member since 1978Member since 1963Member since 1962
MartiniqueLigue de football de la Martinique1953Member since 1978Member since 2013Non-Member
MontserratMontserrat Football Association1994Member since 1996Member since 1996Member since 1996
Puerto RicoPuerto Rican Football Federation1940Member since 1978Member since 1964Member since 1960
SabaSaba United Sports Federation???Non-MemberNon-MemberNon-Member
Saint Barthelemy Comité Territorial de Football de Saint-Barthélemy???Non-MemberNon-MemberNon-Member
Saint Kitts & NevisSaint Kitts and Nevis Football Association1932Member since 1992Member since 1992Member since 1992
Saint LuciaSaint Lucia Football Association1979Member since 1998Member since 1986Member since 1988
Saint MartinComité de Football des Îles du Nord1999Non-MemberMember since 2013Non-Member
Saint Vincent & The GrenadinesSaint Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation1979Member since 1988Member since 1986Member since 1988
Sint EustatiusStatia Football Association???Non-MemberNon-MemberNon-Member
Sint MaartenSint Maarten Soccer Association1986Member since ???Member since 2013Non-Member
SurinameSurinaamse Voetbal Bond1920Member since 1978Member since 1961Member since 1929
Trinidad & TobagoTrinidad and Tobago Football Federation1908Member since 1978Member since 1964Member since 1964
Turks & Caicos IslandsTurks and Caicos Islands Football Association1996Member since 1998Member since 1996Member since 1998
United States Virgin IslandsU.S. Virgin Islands Soccer Federation1992Member since 1998Member since 1987Member since 1998
CountryFootball Association Year FoundedCFU StatusCONCACAF StatusFIFA Status

 

Caribbean Football Union Teams.
Caribbean Football Union Teams. Caribbean Football Union Teams, all members of the Caribbean Football Union.

NOTE: The Jamaica Reggae Girlz will compete at the 9th FIFA Women’s World Cup, which will be hosted jointly by Australia and New Zealand from July 20th to August 20th, 2023. Jamaica is the first women’s football team from the Caribbean to participate in this global tournament with 32 teams; it should be another source of inspiration for the men’s football teams in the region, gearing up for 2026!   Finally, this post was originally published on May 22, 2018, and this was updated on November 11th, 2022.  

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Welcome to Caribbean & Co. founded by Ursula Petula Barzey who enjoys traveling the Caribbean in search of the best cultural and food adventures, places to stay and live/work opportunities. Launched in 2014, Caribbean & Co. has won five travel media awards.

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