In principle, the major competitions in the 2005/2006 season - including cup finals - must be completed in all confederations and associations by 14 May 2006 at the latest, thereby allowing players representing the teams qualified for the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ sufficient time to recover and prepare for the final competition. Any exceptions to this ruling may only be granted to top non-European leagues and would require the approval of FIFA. Furthermore, any players not playing in the top leagues who are called up to represent their country at the FIFA World Cup™ must also be released by 14 May 2006 at the latest.
These decisions were passed by the FIFA Executive Committee at its end-of-year meeting in Zurich on
18-19 December under the chairmanship of FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter. In reaching these decisions, the executive ratified a proposal tabled by the Strategic Studies Committee on 5 October 2004. With regard to the other proposals made by this committee at its meeting in early October, and based on a follow-up discussion between the General Secretaries of all six confederations with FIFA General Secretary Dr Urs Linsi, the executive also decided:
- To bring the FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship in line with the FIFA World Youth Championship as of 2006 by making it a U-20 competition and allowing 16 teams to participate instead of the current 12. The executive also awarded the 2006 edition of this women's youth event to the Football Union of Russia, provided that the requisite agreements have been signed by early next year;
- To draw up a coordinated international match calendar for women's football;
- To examine the possibility of creating a Women's U-18 World Championship and of making the men's U-17 World Championship an U-18 event;
- To retain the current FIFA Women's World Cup cycle, i.e. every four years in an odd year (2003, 2007, 2011, etc.).
Furthermore, the Executive Committee upheld a decision reached at its meeting on 6 October 2004, stating that from 2005 onwards, the FIFA Confederations Cup will be staged in a four-year cycle, with the World Cup host nation organising it in the year before the FIFA World Cup™. However, the South American and European champions will no longer be obliged to take part.
Referring to article 18 of the FIFA Statutes, the Executive Committee unanimously rejected the plans of 15 European leagues to form a so-called "European League". FIFA will instruct the associations concerned to inform the leagues or clubs accordingly and to warn them that sanctions could be imposed.
In other matters, the Executive Committee decided to amend art. 62 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code (Sanctions, see Adaptation of art. 62 FIFA disciplinary code ) with immediate effect in order to bring it in line with WADA's World Anti-Doping Code. An amendment to the FIFA Doping Control Regulations was also approved, and consequently, any future changes that WADA makes to its list of prohibited substances will automatically be binding upon FIFA.
The 51 associations that have so far failed to submit their statutes to FIFA for inspection, despite receiving three reminders to do so, will not receive any funds from the FIFA Financial Assistance Programme from January 2005 onwards until they have met their obligations in this respect. However, this decision does not affect those associations that are consensually revising their statutes with FIFA and their confederation.
With regard to the question of whether the female player, Maribel Dominguez (Mexico), should be eligible to play for a men's professional club in Mexico's second division, the Executive Committee stressed once again that there must be a clear separation between men's and women's football. This is laid down in league football and in international matches by the existence of gender-specific competitions, and the Laws of the Game and FIFA's regulations do not provide for any exceptions.
The committee ratified the Finance Committee's proposal to create a special insurance fund for the FIFA World Cup™, with the 2006 event to be used as a test. Consequently, each association that qualifies will pay 5% of its prize money into a fund to be used to compensate clubs for any injuries sustained by their players. Any surplus funds are to be reimbursed to the associations after the end of the tournament.
Furthermore, the Executive Committee also decided that in accordance with the principle of rotating the tournament among the confederations, the FIFA U-17 World Championship 2007 would be held in Asia. Two Asian associations - Iran and Korea Republic - have submitted bids for the event, while a total of 16 associations, from four confederations, had declared an interest.
- The Executive Committee ratified the Players' Status Committee's requests for a second single judge and for the total number of members in the Dispute Resolution Chamber to be reduced from 40 to 20;
- The executive ratified the revised Regulations for the Status and Transfer of Players, which will come into force after the 2004/2005 season (see separate release);
- The suspension of the Niger football association was provisionally lifted on the basis of assurances given by the country's Prime Minister that the government would refrain from interfering in the association's business;
- In accordance with art. 75 of the FIFA Statutes and art. 9 of the Regulations Governing the Application of the Statutes, the Royal League (12 clubs from Sweden, Norway and Denmark) was granted tournament status for 38 matches during the winter break. This approval was only given for the matches currently underway (winter 2004/2005);
- The Executive Committee approved a request submitted by New Zealand's Football Kingz to continue to play in the Australian professional league next season. However, for every additional season, Football Kingz must submit another request to the FIFA Executive Committee.