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Everyday Sport: Who are FIFA, and what role do they play in global football?

FIFA is responsible for organising and promoting football's major international tournaments, most importantly the football World Cup, which began in 1930, and the Women's World Cup which began in 1991.

FIFA, Fédération Internationale de Football Association in French, is the highest global governing body of football (also known as soccer to distinguish it from American football), the world's most popular game. (AP/File)

Late on Monday (February 28) evening, FIFA and UEFA decided to indefinitely suspend all Russian teams, whether national representative teams or club teams, from participation in all competitions run by the two football bodies.

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“Football”, FIFA said in a media release, “is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine. Both presidents (of FIFA and UEFA) hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people”. (UEFA is the Union of European Football Associations, which organises the annual UEFA Champions League, the competition of Europe’s top football clubs.)

Russia has played in four FIFA World Cups since 1991. Before that, the Soviet team participated in seven World Cups, finishing fourth in 1966. Russian clubs have taken part in European competitions since 1966-67; Spartak Moscow and CSKA Moscow have played in the largest numbers of Champions League competitions.

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Governing body

FIFA, Fédération Internationale de Football Association in French, is the highest global governing body of football (also known as soccer to distinguish it from American football), the world’s most popular game. FIFA is also the international governing body for futsal (a kind of mini football played indoors on a hard court between two teams of five players each) and beach soccer (five-a-side, played on a beach).

Founded over a century ago to oversee international competitions among the national football associations of a handful of West European countries, the membership of FIFA now comprises 211 national football associations around the world.

Each of these national associations are members of one of the six confederations into which the footballing world is divided: Africa, Asia, Europe, North & Central America and the Caribbean, Oceania, and South America.

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FIFA, which is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, supports these national associations financially and logistically through various programmes. According to FIFA, these associations, as its representatives, “have obligations to respect the statutes, aims and ideals of football’s governing body and promote and manage our sport accordingly”.

FIFA organisation

The FIFA Congress is the supreme legislative body of FIFA, in which each of the 211 members of the organisation has a vote. The Congress ordinarily meets annually, and members of the Congress propose candidates for the host of the FIFA World Cup and presidency of FIFA.

In the intervals when the FIFA Congress is not meeting, the FIFA Council is the main decision making body of FIFA. The FIFA Council consists of 37 members, including the president, eight vice presidents, and 28 other members elected by the member associations. Each member is elected for a term of four years. Each confederation must elect at least one representative who is a woman.

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FIFA presidents

Gianni Infantino, a Swiss-Italian football administrator, has been president of FIFA since 2016. He succeeded Joseph S Blatter, who resigned in 2015 after serving in the post for 17 years amid allegations of corruption, mismanagement, and financial misappropriation. The founding president of FIFA was the Frenchman Robert Guerin, who served from 1904-06.

The longest serving president of FIFA was Jules Rimet (1921-54), after whom the FIFA World Cup was originally named. The other long-serving president was João Havelange (1974-98).

Role of FIFA

FIFA is responsible for organising and promoting football’s major international tournaments, most importantly the football World Cup, which began in 1930, and the Women’s World Cup which began in 1991.

The men’s World Cup, held every four years, is FIFA’s marquee event. The next World Cup is scheduled to be held in Qatar in November-December this year. Brazil has won the World Cup competition the most number of times (5), followed by Italy and Germany (4 each), and Argentina, France, and Uruguay (2 each).

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FIFA is a member of the International Football Association Board, which sets the rules of football, and it applies and enforces those rules across all FIFA competitions. All FIFA tournaments generate revenue from sponsorship. On its revenues, the FIFA annual report 2021 said: “Revenues developed successfully in the third year of the 2019-2022 cycle. Despite the impact of the pandemic on the global economy, FIFA is well on track to exceed its projected revenue target of USD 6,440 million for the cycle, having contracted 95% of its total budgeted revenue as at 31 December 2021.”

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First published on: 01-03-2022 at 16:56 IST
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