Succes And Challenges
We are approaching the end of yet another year, one that has brought FIFA success and many unforgettable moments. It has, however, also raised a number of critical issues and new problems that will occupy football over both the medium and long term.
When we look back on the positive stories of 2007, we can certainly count among them the World Cups that thrilled players and experts alike. In Canada, the U-20s showed that they are only a step away from reaching the very top of the game. The same could be said about the U-17s whose energetic and skilful play in Korea enthralled us all. The Beach Soccer World Cup and the Club Wotld Cup also contributed to a successful year. The Women’s World Cup in China, meanwhile, was an opportunity for the women to prove that their game has now reached a very high level.
To allow such success stories to continue, the FIFA Executive Committee passed a number of important decisions at its meeting at the end of October. For example, the hosting of the FIFA World Cup™ will cease to be rotated as from 2018. The rotation principle has now served its purpose as it has allowed us to take our flagship competition – which is still the ultimate stage for any footballer — to Africa for the first time and back to South America after a lengthy absence. In Germany in 2011, the women will be welcomed by hosts who are devoted to the development of the game and they will continue to help women’s football go from strength to strength.
In the political arena, as part of the international sporting movement, we have witnessed the signing of the European Reform Treaty, which recognises the specific nature of sport for the first time in the history of the European Union. As a result, in the future the special nature of sport – such as its structures based on voluntary activity and its social and educational function — will be taken into account.
These new conditions have come at exactly the right time. The Granada 74 case, for example, showed exactly why sport needs to be kept apart from commercial law. Clubs must only be able to qualify for a higher division through their success on the field of play, and they should not be allowed to purchase such an honour by simply changing their location and name. A new article in the Regulations Governing the Application of the FIFA Statutes will put an end to any such notions in the future.
We have also strengthened football’s structures with the FIFA Club Licensing Regulations, the revised Players’ Agents Regulations and the updated Regulations for the Status and Transfer of Players. The latter regulations now contain a provision that, in direct response to the Tevez case, will prevent third parties influencing transfers. Finally, by founding Early Warning System GmbH, FIFA has already for the past few months been combating the negative effects that betting can have on football matches.
Finally, I wish all members of our football family health, luck and happiness in 2008 as well as continued enjoyment in and from the beautiful game. There will certainly be no shortage of new challenges as our game has to constantly reinvent itself so that it can survive. I intend to tackle those challenges from the top, as your re-elected President and as the symbolic centre-forward in our FIFA team. For the Game. For the World.