Edited and updated in 2015 by Brigid Larkin
This page aims to consolidate much of the information on how FIFA is structured in one place. Most of it can be found within FIFA’s own website, but here I aim to compile a brief overview all on one page and add additional information as well as links to relevant pages both on the Soccer Politics blog and beyond.
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA, was founded in 1904 and is the international governing body of soccer.
FIFA’s mission is simple: “Develop the Game, Touch the World, Build a Better Future”.
FIFA’s Mission is a short video produced by FIFA that briefly explains the global role of FIFA as well as it’s commitment to growing the game, not only in enormous events such as the World Cup, but also through grassroots initiatives as well. It also structures the entire FIFA organization
FIFA started with only seven members, and now boasts a total 209 member associations, 17 more members than the United Nations. The nations are divided into six different confederations, one for each continent. The six FIFA confederations are:
Asian Football Confederation – AFC
Confédération Africaine de Football – CAF
Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football – CONCACAF
Confederación Sudamericana du Fútbol – CONMEBOL
Oceania Football Confederation – OFC
Union des Associations Européenes de Football – UAEF
These confederations serve as the umbrella organizations for FIFA on the various continents. They host their own tournaments and outreach programs and help to organize their various member associations.
FIFA is run by a President. The President is elected by the Congress for a term of four years, and can be reelected indefinitely
The current president of FIFA is Sepp Blatter
Blatter is FIFA’s 8th President, and has been one of the more controversial heads of FIFA or any other sports-based governing body. Rumors and allegations of bribery have followed him since his first election in 1998 . His involvement with international sports started in the 1970s when he helped to organize two Olympic Games, first in 1972, and the second in 1976. He then served as technical director and Secretary General for FIFA before being elected as President. He has been reelected three times, most recently in 2011. While most discussion surrounding Blatter is that of controversy, he has also been involved in other major changes, such as instituting a golden goal policy and penalizing players for excessive celebrations.
He is also very active on twitter- you can check out his page or follow him here : https://twitter.com/SeppBlatter
The FIFA Congress is composed of 209 members, one from each national football association of FIFA. It meets annually for ordinary congresses to decide on rules amendments, statutes, and to approve the annual report. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, every four years they elect the President .
© Getty Images via fifa.com
While the Congress is set up democratically, it only meets once a year, which lowers productivity tremendously. In extreme situations, extraordinary congresses may be called into session at any time by the executive committee, but requires the consent of 1/5th of the members. Such extraordinary congresses have been called 5 times.
Memorable FIFA Congresses
During the first FIFA congresses in the early 20th century, the major debates were over larger political issues. The main area of contention was what constituted a nation for the purposes of entry into FIFA. For example, Great Britain did not apply for entrance as a whole, but rather as four separate entities: Scotland, Northern Ireland, Great Britain and Wales. In 1908 an extraordinary congress (the second in FIFA’s history) was called to verify the entrance of these parts as four separate entities. During FIFA’s early years congress decisions included establishing English as FIFA’s official language and producing annual financial reports.
In 1910 the first non-European country, South Africa, was admitted . However South Africa’s membership has not been without its issues, and has been revoked twice. It was not until 1992 that it regained full membership again following the end of the apartheid system.
Visit the sites linked here for more information on the FIFA congress, including the most recent statutes, activity reports, and minutes from the last Congress. There’s also a great compilation of photos from the 2013 Congress from FIFA.
In addition to the Congress, FIFA has an executive committee, which serves as the decision-making assembly when the Congress is not in session. The executive committee is made up of the President, a General Secretary, 8 vice presidents, and 15 members. Each member serves terms of 4 years and, like the President, can be reelected. Representation on the executive committee is “based on economic and social importance of football for the respective continent and region”.
As it currently stands,
OFC gets one vice president
UEFA gets the most influence with two vice presidents and five members.
The current Secretary General is Jérôme Valcke of France.
He is formally nominated by the executive committee, but responsible to the President . This means that the President is ultimately the one to decide who becomes Secretary General and how long they remain in that post.
Below the Secretary General are the vice presidents. The current vice presidents are as follows (click on their last name to go to their FIFA bio)
Senior Vice President: Issa Hayatou of Cameroon (CAF)
When this page was first published, the Senior Vice President was listed as Julio Grondona. Grondona has since passed away. He died on July 30, 2014. The page has been edited to reflect changes in the listing of Vice Presidents.
Ángel María Villar Llona of Spain (UEFA)
Michel Platini of France (UEFA)
David Chung of Papua New Guinea (OFC)
H.R.H. Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan (AFC)
Jim Boyce of Great Britain (Northern Ireland) (UEFA)
Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Islands (CONCACAF)
Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay (CONMEBOL)
While the executive committee is set up in a representative way, in reality it is too big to deal with things in an effective way. For it to be more effective, the size should be lowered, but due the way representation is allocated there is no way to lower it realistically .
See here for more information about the executive committee
Below the executive committee are various standing committees. FIFA currently has 22 standing committees that fall into three main categories: those dealing with FIFA tournaments, those relating to the rules of the game, and those that handle the more corporate and administrative sides . Each committee has a chairman, deputy chairman, and then various members, all of which are determined by the executive committee . The following is a list of the standing committees.
Links to the various bodies official FIFA pages can be found here.
The final main structural body of FIFA is their judicial branch. It has three main parts, the Disciplinary Committee, the Appeal Committee, and the Ethics Committee . They have recently worked together to produce the FIFA disciplinary code and Code of Ethics.
In 2011 FIFA produced a 39-page review in an attempt to increase transparency. The largest question around FIFA is how all of the revenue it raises is being used. FIFA is, by law, a non-profit association, yet deals with billions of dollars annually, and is more realistically a corporation and should be run as one. The goal is clearly to increase transparency and accountability. The role of FIFA has changed from its inception over a century ago, and FIFA is taking steps to adjust to their new role.
Another problem the report highlights is the immense amount of power that his held by the President. From a structural standpoint, the power the President has to appoint and dismiss the Security General essentially gives them power over the Executive Committee, which takes the place of the Congress except at the time of their annual meeting. Even disregarding the allegations of bribery and other darker sides of FIFA, there is still a large imbalance of power within the structure itself. They also point out that FIFA has no real independent supervision, and strongly suggest adding a mechanism that could do so .
Another inherent issue facing FIFA is the reliance member associations have financially on FIFA. The report goes into ways to try and avoid “corruption risks” and highlights potential ways to lower such risks . The most important changes they urge for are better bookkeeping and financial reporting. These changes, however, would not remove the inherent bias voting members will have due to the money they receive from FIFA.
Increases in Transparency
In an attempt to become more systematic and transparent, FIFA has established a large number of systems to help make more public various systems and online tools to help improve good governance.
An example of such systems is the Transfer Matching System, or TMS. The goal of this program is to establish a transfer market based on “integrity, accountability, and innovation”. The TMS released its first report in 2011, and has data going back to 2010. Not only are the Reports available for order, specific data sets may also be requested through the website. For more information on transfer fees and how they affect the sport, please check out “An Uneven Playing Field” and “How Much are Footballers Worth?” .
Another system FIFA has in place is their Early Warning System, or EWS. This system is used to monitor sports betting, and is now being utilized by the Olympics as well. During the 2010 World Cup a hotline was also made available to players, referees, or officials which they could call and report game fixing or other transgressions. They have also recently teamed up with INTERPOL to try and bring an end to illegal betting
While FIFA is beginning to do its part in improving its transparency and standards, there are unfortunately many areas where FIFA is lacking. For example, there are no women represented in any of FIFA’s positions. Many areas around this blog discuss the ever-increasing importance of women in football, from discussions on blogs aimed at women to pages on the role of Women’s soccer in the US. Also be sure to check out this page, on women and refereeing,which relates more specifically to FIFA.
Additionally, FIFA has constantly been faced with controversies. From Sepp Blatter’s first Presidential election to talk of buyouts and bribery, scandal seems to be at every turn. To learn more about this check out “The Dark Side of FIFA: Selected controversies and the future of accountability in the organization”
FIFA is in a unique position of global visibility and recognition that it could use to promote good. To learn more about this, and to see if they are having any success, check out this page on FIFA and humanitarian aid.
Another interesting angle is how the masses have responded to FIFA’s actions over the years. A vast number of cartoons have been made mocking both FIFA and its leadership. To see some and an explanation and discussion of them head over to the caricature page.
How to cite this article: “The Structure and Policies of FIFA,” Written by Brittney Balser (2013), World Cup 2014, Soccer Politics Blog, http://sites.duke.edu/wcwp (accessed on (date)).