Haiti has one of the longest football traditions in the Caribbean and was an early participant in World Cup qualifying. Throughout the 60s, and 70s, Haiti's footballing status in the region remained very strong, being considered the third strongest team in CONCACAF after Mexico and arguably Costa Rica. The strength of the national selection ultimately culminated in Haiti's first ever World Cup appearance in 1974, in which they surprised the world in their opening goal against a considerably stronger Italian team. The island nation has produced many talented star players over the years.
The period from the mid-1960s to mid-1970s could be considered a golden age for Haitian football. With Antoine Tassy as coach for much of this period, Haiti would emerge as one of the strongest teams in the CONCACAF zone, being pooled with other regionally strong football nations such as Mexico and Costa Rica. By 1965, players like Henri Francillon, Philippe Vorbe, Renold Jean Francois and Guy St-Vil were already playing in the team and would be stalwarts of the side in the coming years.
The team developed sufficiently to reach the final round of qualifying for 1970, where they faced El Salvador. After losing the first leg at home, Haiti pulled off a 3–0 win away but the rules of the day dictated a play-off on neutral ground which El Salvador won to secure a place in the 1970 FIFA World Cup.
In the 1974 qualifiers, Haiti once again reached the final round in a qualifying tournament completely played at home. This time, with all odds on their favor, they would top the group and qualify for the 1974 World Cup. In West Germany, they would be drawn in an extremely tough group with Italy, Argentina and Poland. However, 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 1–3, and would lose to Poland (0–7) and Argentina (1–4).
Haiti would reach the final rounds of 1978 and 1982 qualifiers, but failed to make the cut. The years since have seen Haiti's footballing status decline markedly. In recent years, the political situation in the country has led to numerous defections from members of the soccer team. The team has rebuilt somewhat through the Haitian diaspora in Miami, Florida, and some Haitian home games have been played in Miami in recent years. Haiti as of recently has been rising once again as a footballing power in CONCACAF.
In the 2010 Haiti earthquake at least 30 people with ties to Haitian football perished, including players, coaches, referees and administrative and medical representatives. Twenty others with ties to Haitian football were feared to be buried in the ruins.