A Premiere That Witnessed Many Decisions
The 58th FIFA Congress approved a resolution on “6+5″ in Sydney on 30 May and ratified version 3.0 of the World Anti-Doping Code. This was the first time world football’s governing body had ever convened in Australia.
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter addressed the delegates in Sydney and voiced his concern over the issue of competitiveness in football. He said: “Unfortunately, there is a growing sporting and economic inequality in the global football family, especially among clubs. As a result, many clubs do not play to be champions, but to finish 4th, 5th, 6th or even not to be relegated. Something is wrong here. This does not match with the philosophy of our game. We need to try to correct this.”
Outlining FIFA’s mission to “Develop the game, touch the world, build a better future”, he also reasserted FIFA’s commitment to fight against “discrimination, racism, corruption, doping, illegal betting and violence”. With regard to FIFA’s Refereeing Assistance Programme (RAP), launched to develop refereeing all around the world, the FIFA President called for professional referees in professional leagues and for football to “keep a human face!”
The Congress then received an update on a number of strategic and sports political matters currently dealt with by FIFA such as club licensing and ownership, players’ agents, player transfers and betting activities.
The delegates also took a number of other decisions:
- The FIFA Congress approved the proposal of the Executive Committee to replace the Organising Committee for the FIFA Club World Cup with the Committee for Club Football, whose tasks will be to organise the FIFA Club World Cup and consider issues relating to the interests of club football worldwide.
- All other proposals regarding the eligibility to play for representative teams were also approved; this includes a new wording of art. 17 (d) of the Regulations Governing the Application of the Statutes which now reads: “[...] he has lived continuously for at least five years after reaching the age of 18 on the territory of the relevant Association.” These proposals shall come into effect immediately.
Two hundred and one FIFA member associations attended the 58lh FIFA Congress (Afghanisran, Benin, Cape Verde Islands, Dominica, Gambia, Guinea and Trinidad & Tobago were absent). At the start of the proceedings, the FIFA Congress approved the agenda of the 2008 Congress, the minutes of the 2007 Congress in Zurich and the FIFA Activity Report.
The delegates approved the consolidated financial statements for 2007 (the full financial report is available on FIFA.com) as well as the revised budget overview 2007-2010 and the detailed budget for 2009.
ORDER OF MERIT
The opening ceremony of the 58th FIFA Congress took place at the world-famous Sydney Opera House on 29 May. More than 1,000 people, including representatives from FIFA’s member associations and the confederations, as well as many other officials, guests and observers joined FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, Australian Prime Minister the Honourable Kevin Rudd and Chairman of the Football Federation Australia (FFA) Frank Lowy AC at a colourful ceremony which put a special focus on the three pillars of FIFA’s mission to “Develop trie game, touch the world, build a better future”.
Joseph S. Blatter, who gave a special welcome to FIFAs Honorary President, Dr Joao Havelange, stated in his address to the audience: “I would like to thank Australia, the state of New South Wales, the city of Sydney and the population here for their warm and wonderful welcome. We are at the Sydney Opera House, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Who could ask for a better setting for our Congress? The development of football in Australia in recent years, with Chairman Frank Lowy and his team, has been remarkable. And I’m sure they will do more in the future.” The FIFA President continued: “With 260 million active participants and one billion people directly or indirectly touched by football, our game enjoys wonderful popularity worldwide. And therefore football has a huge responsibility. We must make sure that the evils of our world do not come into football. Football is hope, football brings emotions. Let’s build a better future.”
The Honourable Kevin Rudd, Australian Prime Minister, who was presented with the Presidential Medal by Blatter, welcomed all Congress participants: “Football is the most truly global sport of all,” he said. “Football brings people together from all corners of the world. Australia is a country of extraordinary ethnic and cultural diversity, which we are very proud of. It also is a country of immigrants. They brought a living passion for football. The Australian government fully supports Australia’s bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup.™ Australians love to be part of a global celebration. The 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney were an extraordinary event for us.”
Leading artists from Australia and an array of performers representing the regions of the world gave the event a cultural and festive touch. The stunning performances included a Welcome to Country in Aboriginal language and a spectacular finale featuring the Opera House Grand Organ and Orchestra under the baton of Tommy Tycho in a stirring rendition of the FIFA anthem.
The FIFA Order of Merit was awarded to His Excellency Alpha Oumar Konare, the former President of Mali and former Chairman of the Commission of the African Union, Paolo Maldini, Italy’s most-capped player of all time, Isaac David Sasso Sasso from Costa Rica, who served on the FIFA Executive Committee for 17 years, Nicolas Abumohor, the former President of the Chilean Football Association, Zhang Jilong, the Vice-President of the Chinese Football Association and the East Asian Football Federation, Mohammed Yusuf, Senior Vice-President of the Fiji Football Association, and Helen Petermann, Joseph S. Blatter’s right arm for more than 30 years.