The Fédération Internationale de Football Association
(International Federation of Association Football
commonly known by its acronym, FIFA
English pronunciation: /ˈfiːfə/
is the international governing body of association
football. Its headquarters are located in Zürich,
Switzerland, and its current president is Sepp Blatter.
FIFA is responsible for the organization and governance
of football's major international tournaments, most
notably the FIFA World Cup, held since 1930.
208 member associations, which is 16 more than the
United Nations and three more than the International
Olympic Committee, though five fewer than the
International Association of Athletics Federations.
The need for a single body to oversee the worldwide
game became apparent at the beginning of the 20th
century with the increasing popularity of international
fixtures. FIFA was founded in Paris on 21 May 1904; the
French name and acronym remain, even outside
French-speaking countries. Its first president was
FIFA presided over its first international
competition in 1906, but this met with little approval
or success. This, in combination with economic factors,
led to the swift replacement of Guérin with Daniel
Burley Woolfall from England, by now a member
association. The next tournament staged, the football
competition for the 1908 Olympics in London was more
successful, despite the presence of professional
footballers, contrary to the founding principles of
Membership of FIFA expanded beyond Europe with the
application of South Africa in 1908, Argentina and Chile
in 1912, and Canada and the United States in 1913.
FIFA, however, foundered during World War I, with
many players sent off to war and the possibility of
travel for international fixtures severely limited.
Post-war, following the death of Woolfall, the
organisation was run by Dutchman Carl Hirschmann. It was
saved from extinction, but at the cost of the withdrawal
of the Home Nations (of the United Kingdom), who cited
an unwillingness to participate in international
competitions with their recent World War enemies. The
Home Nations later resumed their membership.
The FIFA collection is held by the National Football
Museum in England.
FIFA is an association established under the Laws of
Switzerland. Its headquarters are in Zürich.
FIFA's supreme body is the FIFA Congress, an assembly
made up of representatives from each affiliated member
association. The Congress assembles in ordinary session
once every year and, additionally, extraordinary
sessions have been held once a year since 1998. Only the
Congress can pass changes to FIFA's statutes.
Congress elects the President of FIFA, its General
Secretary and the other members of FIFA's Executive
Committee. The President and General Secretary are the
main officeholders of FIFA, and are in charge of its
daily administration, carried out by the General
Secretariat, with its staff of approximately 280
FIFA's Executive Committee, chaired by the President,
is the main decision-making body of the organization in
the intervals of Congress. FIFA's worldwide
organisational structure also consists of several other
bodies, under authority of the Executive Committee or
created by Congress as standing committees. Among those
bodies are the Finance Committee, the Disciplinary
Committee, the Referees Committee, etc.
Aside from its worldwide institutions (presidency,
Executive Committee, Congress, etc.) there are
confederations recognised by FIFA which oversee the game
in the different continents and regions of the world.
National associations, and not the continental
confederations, are members of FIFA. The continental
confederations are provided for in FIFA's statutes.
National associations must claim membership to both FIFA
and the confederation in which their nation is
geographically resident for their teams to qualify for
entry to FIFA's competitions (with a few geographic
exceptions listed below):
- AFC – Asian Football Confederation in Asia and
- CAF – Confédération Africaine de Football in
- CONCACAF – Confederation of North, Central
American and Caribbean Association Football in North
America and Central America
- CONMEBOL – Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol
in South America
- OFC – Oceania Football Confederation in Oceania
- UEFA – L'Union Européenne de Football
Association in Europe.
Nations straddling the traditional boundary between
Europe and Asia have generally had their choice of
confederation. As a result, a number of transcontinental
nations including Russia, Turkey, Cyprus, Armenia,
Azerbaijan and Georgia have chosen to become part of
UEFA despite the bulk of their land area being in Asia.
Israel, although lying entirely within Asia, joined UEFA
in 1994, after decades of its football teams being
boycotted by many AFC countries. Kazakhstan moved from
the AFC to UEFA in 2002. Australia was the latest to
move from the OFC to AFC in January 2006.
Guyana and Suriname have always been CONCACAF members
despite being South American countries.
In total, FIFA recognises 208 national associations
and their associated men's national teams as well as 129
women's national teams; see the list of national
football teams and their respective country codes.
Curiously, FIFA has more member states than the United
Nations, as FIFA recognises several non-sovereign
entities as distinct nations, most notably the four Home
Nations within the United Kingdom. The FIFA World
Rankings are updated monthly and rank each team based on
their performance in international competitions,
qualifiers, and friendly matches. There is also a world
ranking for women's football, updated four times a year.
Recognitions and awards
FIFA awards, each year, the title of FIFA World
Player of the Year to the top men's and women's players
of the year, as part of its annual awards ceremony which
also recognises team and international football
In 1994 FIFA published the FIFA World Cup All-Time
In 2002 FIFA announced the FIFA Dream Team, an
all-time all-star team chosen by fans in a poll.
As part of its centennial celebrations in 2004, FIFA
organised a "Match of the Century" between France and
Governance and game development
of the Game
The laws that govern football, known officially as
the Laws of the Game, are not solely the
responsibility of FIFA; they are maintained by a body
called the International Football Association Board (IFAB).
FIFA has members on its board (four representatives);
the other four are provided by the football associations
of the United Kingdom: England, Scotland, Wales, and
Northern Ireland, in recognition of their contribution
to the creation and history of the game. Changes to the
Laws of the Game must be agreed by at least six of the
Discipline of national associations
FIFA frequently takes active roles in the running of
the sport and developing the game around the world. One
of its unique policies is to suspend teams and
associated members from international competition when a
government interferes in the running of FIFA's associate
member organisations or if the associate is not
A recent high-profile suspension was of the Greek
Football Federation for political interference.
Another recent suspension was on the Kenya Football
Federation because it was not running the game in Kenya
and also of Iraq.
A 2007 FIFA ruling that a player can be registered
with a maximum of three clubs, and appear in official
matches for a maximum of two, in a year measured from
July 1 to June 30 has led to controversy, especially in
those countries whose seasons cross that date barrier,
as in the case of two former Ireland internationals. As
a direct result of this controversy, FIFA modified this
ruling the following year to accommodate transfers
between leagues with out-of-phase seasons.
The Iraq national team was suspended in May 2008, due
to government interference with independent national
However the decision was overturned by FIFA on May 29,
2008, since the Iraqi government reversed its earlier
decision in dissolving the Iraq Football Association.
FIFA altitude ban
FIFA attempted to address the issue of extreme
altitude in May 2007, ruling that no future
international matches could be played at an altitude
over 2500 m (8200 ft).
The FIFA altitude ban would most notably have
affected the national teams of Andean countries. Under
this proposal, Bolivia would no longer be able to play
international matches in La Paz (3,600 m), Ecuador would
be unable to play in Quito (2,800 m), and Colombia could
no longer play in Bogotá (2,640 m).
However, FIFA soon backed away from the proposal
after international condemnation,
and under political pressure from the CONMEBOL
countries, first extending the maximum altitude to 2,800
m (9,190 ft) in June 2007, which made Bogotá and Quito
viable international venues once again, and then waiving
the restriction for La Paz in July 2007.
The ban was reintroduced in December 2007 by FIFA for
matches 2,750 metres above sea level, unless players
were allowed to acclimatize.
However, the ban was again suspended by FIFA in May
Allegations of financial irregularities
In May 2006 British investigative reporter Andrew
Jennings' book Foul! The Secret World of FIFA:
Bribes, Vote-Rigging and Ticket Scandals (Harper
Collins) caused controversy within the football world by
detailing an alleged international cash-for-contracts
scandal following the collapse of FIFA's marketing
partner ISL, and revealed how some football officials
have been urged to secretly repay the sweeteners they
received. The book also alleged that vote-rigging had
occurred in the fight for Sepp Blatter's continued
control of FIFA.
Shortly after the release of Foul! a BBC
television exposé by Jennings and BBC producer Roger
Corke for the BBC news programme Panorama was
broadcast. In this hour-long programme, screened on June
11, 2006, Jennings and the Panorama team submit
that Sepp Blatter was being investigated by Swiss police
over his role in a secret deal to repay more than £1m
worth of bribes pocketed by football officials.
All testimonies offered in the Panorama expose were
provided through a disguised voice, appearance, or both,
save one; Mel Brennan, formerly a lecturer at Towson
University in the United States (and from 2001–2003 Head
of Special Projects for CONCACAF, a liaison to the
e-FIFA project and a FIFA World Cup delegate), became
the first high-level football insider to go public with
substantial allegations of greed, corruption,
nonfeasance and malfeasance by CONCACAF and FIFA
leadership. During the Panorama exposé, Brennan—the
highest-level African-American in the history of world
football governance—Jennings and many others exposed
allegedly inappropriate allocations of money at CONCACAF,
and drew connections between ostensible CONCACAF
criminality and similar behaviours at FIFA. Brennan's
book, The Apprentice: Tragicomic Times Among the Men
Running—and Ruining—World Football is due out in
The exposure of these allegations have spawned many
protest groups such as FIFA Reformation, a group
on Facebook the social networking website, as
well as S.A.V.E. Sport - the Sport Alternative Vision
Endeavour - which advocates deep critique and challenge
of current ways of organizing sport at the highests
levels, as well as those organizations' claims of
Since the 1994 FIFA World Cup, like the UEFA
Champions League, FIFA has adopted an anthem composed by
the German composer Franz Lambert. The FIFA Anthem or
Hymn is played at the beginning of FIFA structured
matches and tournaments such as international friendlies,
the FIFA World Cup, FIFA Women's World Cup, FIFA U-20
World Cup, FIFA U-17 World Cup, FIFA U-20 Women's World
Cup, FIFA Women's U-17 World Cup, FIFA Futsal World Cup,
FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, and FIFA Club World Cup.
FIFA structured tournaments
- FIFA World Cup
- FIFA U-20 World Cup
- FIFA U-17 World Cup
- FIFA Confederations Cup
- FIFA Club World Cup
- FIFA Futsal World Cup
- FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup
- Blue Stars / FIFA Youth Cup
- FIFA Women's World Cup
- FIFA Women's Club World Cup
- FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup
- FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup
The following are the sponsors of FIFA:
- Coca Cola