Duty To Protect The King Of Sports
Josehp S. Blatter was elected for his first term as FIFA President on 8 June 1998 in the back of an ambitious agenda.
The task facing Joseph S. Blatter when he was appointed President was made all the more difficult by the increasingly complex environment surrounding football. Nowadays, FIFA faces new challenges in the shape of political and economic constraints as well as sociocultural barriers. Football, which brings together billions of fans — adding meaning to their lives, kindling all manner of emotions, and in some cases even providing them with an income — now finds itself at a crossroads. “I am proud of FIFA’s accomplishments during my ten years as President. However, the work is far from finished and it is my dearest wish that we press ahead with our reforms in the next few years. We do not introduce reforms for the sake of it, but in order to protect football. FIFA is world football’s governing body and, as such, has a duty to protect the king of sports,” says President Blatter.
All of FIFA’s activities are motivated by the same guiding principle – to develop the game, touch the world and build a better future. In other words, FIFA’s principal objectives to date of developing football and organising competitions have been joined by a third objective in the run-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup™”, namely that of using football as a means for social development.
Pillar 1: Development – laying the foundations to develop the game
Objectives: Provide greater support to the associations through the Goal Programme, speed up aid to Africa in the run-up to 2010 and embrace other types of football. A third of FIFA’s budget is now allocated to development, while another third is reinvested in football through competitions. More than 300 Goal projects have been implemented or are in the process of being so. These have enabled the building of association headquarters, technical centres and artificial pitches. FIFA has organised the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup since 2005 and continued to promote futsal, thus embracing all types of football. The FIFA Club World Cup, which replaced the Intercontinental Cup, is an elite club tournament open to the six confederations.
The Win in Africa with Africa initiative has enabled the creation of 53 artificial pitches, the introduction of training courses for administrative staff at four African universities and support for African championships and clubs.
Pillar 2: Competitions – touching the whole world
Objectives: Further increase the huge popularity of the FIFA World Cup™, award the tournament to Africa, develop women’s football, improve refereeing and fight doping.
FIFA’s competitions are a key element of football development because they motivate players at all levels. The 2006 FIFA World Cup™ proved to be a great success, in particular thanks to the public viewing and the famous fan fests, which brought together 18 million spectators. Moreover, the introduction in 2000 of World Cup rotation enabled the 2010 tournament to be awarded to South Africa, a first for the continent, and the 2014 event to be awarded to Brazil. However, in view of the huge interest generated in the world’s biggest single-sport event, the Executive Committee decided in late October 2007 to amend the rotation principle and to extend the applications in future to all continents except those which organised the previous two tournaments.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2007, which proved to be a huge success, also provided the stage for the 4th Women’s Football Symposium. The rapid growth in women’s football is embodied by the expansion of the FIFA World Cup™ and the launch of the U-20 and U-17 Women’s World Cups. In the field of medicine, FIFA has stepped up its anti-doping measures, while maintaining football’s principle of individual case management in accordance with the agreement with WADA.
Pillar 3: Corporate social responsibility – going beyond football
Objectives: FIFA has a worldwide social responsibility that goes beyond football. It has a moral obligation to contribute to building a better world and also to provide help in the event of an emergency.
In 2005, the FIFA Congress decided to add a new dimension to the mission of world football’s governing body to “build a better future”. With this in mind, it is contributing substantially to the realisation of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals and has decided to allocate at least 0.7% of its total revenue to its corporate social responsibility initiatives. The Football for Hope Movement, which is key to the strategic alliance between FIFA and streetfootballworld (a non-profit organisation that brings together the various parties involved in Development through Football worldwide), was launched to contribute to social development using football as an instrument. Moreover, the fight against racism continues thanks to the organisation of official anti-racism days during FIFA competitions and also through stricter disciplinary measures.
Besides strengthening the three pillars of its mission, FIFA has succeeded in reinforcing its institutional and regulatory structures and safeguarding the autonomy of the game.
Objectives: Protect football by ensuring that the principles of fair play are upheld.
The Dispute Resolution Chamber, the first international chamber with equal representation of clubs and players, has been established to resolve contractual disputes between players and clubs. Moreover, the Task Force “For the Good of the Game”, the first international body to bring together representatives of every interest group in football (players, clubs, leagues, associations, confederations and FIFA) has led to the establishment of a Strategic Committee that examines the major issues in modern football, including transfers, betting, players’ agents, etc. An Ethics Committee, responsible for ensuring ethics and fair play in football, has also been created. For the first time, an agreement between FIFA and FIFPro was signed to initiate cooperation with players’ representatives.
Regulations – the best protection for everyone involved in football
Objectives: Reinforce the rules protecting everyone involved in football – the players, the game, the clubs and the national teams – in order to preserve the ethics of football.
The new Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players has been established on the basis of an agreement with the European Commission. Solidarity mechanisms have been implemented between clubs. Transfers of under-18 players have been banned. Nine reforms aimed at different key areas (players’ agents, transfer database, monitoring illegal betting, licensing of clubs worldwide, dispute resolution chambers at national level, standard electoral code for elections at associations) have been added to the range of measures already in place.
Politics – the autonomy of sport
Objectives: As world football’s governing body, FIFA aims to preserve the autonomy of sport and, by involving itself through football in areas facing difficult situations, helps to ease tensions.
By collaborating with the IOC, other international federations and UEFA, FIFA has gained recognition by the European Union of sport’s special status. Each time FIFA visits an association, its representatives enter into dialogue with the government to promote sport and football, develop infrastructures and cooperate in combating criminal activity in football. Finally, FIFA vigorously defends the autonomy of football and the associations against governmental interference. Moreover, FIFA has supported meetings between Palestine and Israel, appointed Korea Republic and Japan as joint hosts of the 2002 FIFA World Cup™ and initiated dialogue between Cyprus and Turkey.
Administration – a call for greater transparency
Objectives: Faced with accusations at the start of this decade that it was not transparent, FIFA decided to do everything in its power to prove the contrary. The success of its commercial, marketing and internet activities attest to its transparency.
After the “troubles” of 2001, prudent financial management and the creation of reserves have allowed FIFA to guarantee its future. Its own funds now comprise 750 million Swiss francs, thanks in particular to its financial and commercial success in television and marketing. As for the internet, FIFA.com, the exclusive site of FIFA and the FIFA World Cup™, follows on from the huge success of FIFAworldcup.com, which recorded 4.2 billion pages viewed during the 2006 FIFA World Cup™. Moreover, FIFA has achieved complete financial transparency thanks to the establishment of an Internal Audit Committee based on international accounting standards, which produces annual financial reports. Finally, FIFA inaugurated its new headquarters in 2007, fully equipped with modern administrative tools.
If FIFA did not exist
The reasons for establishing FIFA – to launch the FIFA World Cup™ and promote and regulate international football – are as relevant today as they were in 1904. If FIFA did not exist, it would have to be created in order to bring together all the different interest groups involved in football.
As world football’s governing body, it is FIFA’s responsibility not only to manage and promote football but also to lay the foundations for its future, not by prioritising unilateral interests, which are usually dictated by financial considerations, but by allowing the game to preserve its many valuable assets. For the Game. For the World.