A wave of satisfaction swept over me at the 57th FIFA Congress in Zurich in late May. Not only because of my re-election for a third term at the helm of our organization, but particularly because the delegates of the football family had unanimously thrown their weight behind the strategic direction that FIFA has been following and will now continue to follow. Your decisions have given us – and by “us” I mean the FIFA Executive Committee, our committees and the Task Force “For the Good of the Game” – renewed determination to continue along that path.
What path am I referring to? Who will decide where that path will take us? The second question is easy to answer – in fact, everyone knows the answer already. Having been set up by the congress, the FIFA Strategic Committee will be a forum with representatives from all sectors of football – including the players and clubs – and it will continue where the Task Force “For the Good of the Game” left off. In doing so, it will show once again that FIFA is open to all of the interest groups in our sport. There is also a room for those groups that until now have been attempting to pursue their own interests through the courts. Such tactics are counterproductive. Dialogue within the structures of the football pyramid is infinitely more fruitful and successful than confrontation at courts, bodies for whom the special nature of sport is alien.
Thanks to the comprehensive and constructive work of the task force over the last two years, we now also know where the path will take us. Since its creation in Marrakech in September 2005, the working groups of financial matters, political matters and competitions have tackled, deliberated and made proposals on various topics and points that the FIFA Executive Committee can now set about implementing.
Take the FIFA Club Licensing Regulations, for example. Or the early warning system to counter illeagal betting that will now be used in the 2010 FIFA World Cup TM preliminary competition. In the political arena, standard agreements between the world of sport and political authorities will help to define areas of responsibility and influence. Similarly, a standard election procedure for association bodies will help us to avoid the type of conflicts that are currently leading to long and drawn out disputes.
Much of the Strategic Committee’s work will focus on competitions, however. The congress gave this committee a wide-ranging mandate that will include key topics including the coordinated international match calendar, the size of domestic leagues and the number of matches at national level, player education, the “6 + 5” rule to protect national football, insurance for players of on international duty, the Laws of the Game and refereeing, and a code of ethic between associations and clubs, among other matters.
Our entire sport will have a major role to play in this strategic work, which will be crucial over the next four years. Solidarity simply has to come before egotism. For the Game. For the World.