At the request of FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, the 55th Ordinary FIFA Congress convening in Marrakech today (Monday, 12 September) endorsed the creation of the FIFA Task Force "For the Good of the Game" to address contemporary problems facing football.
In his address to some 1,000 association delegates, guests and media representatives, Blatter gave a comprehensive overview of the current state of football and called attention to the dangers confronting the game (cf. separate media release). "There's no smoke without fire and we have to tackle a whole host of problems including multiple club ownership, government interference and the widening gap between football's rich and poor."
In Timor-Leste and Comoros, the Congress approved the admission of the 206th and 207th members of the international football family. Of the 205 associations already affiliated to the world governing body, 203 were present for the Congress, with 202 (and then 204) entitled to vote on the proposed amendments to the FIFA Statutes. The Djibouti Football Association did not have the right to vote due to its failure to participate in sufficient FIFA competitions in the past four years (FIFA Statutes, article 14 paragraph 2), while the Libyan Football Federation and the Yemen Football Association did not attend the Congress. The Congress confirmed the suspension of the latter by a margin of 184 votes to 5, thus ratifying a decision taken by the FIFA Executive Committee in August as a result of the Yemeni government's interference in the association's affairs.
The Congress approved all proposed amendments to the FIFA Statutes figuring on the agenda, including the adaptation of article 30 paragraph 3 concerning the appointment of FIFA Executive Committee members. With regard to arbitration, the Statutes now explicitly recognise the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne as an independent tribunal for resolving disputes (article 59) and, at the same time, grant the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) the right to lodge appeals against doping decisions at FIFA, confederation and association level once every internal channel has been exhausted (article 60). "By amending the FIFA Statutes and Disciplinary Code, we have done everything in our power to comply with the World Anti-Doping Code," Blatter stressed. "If WADA wishes to ask CAS to check whether FIFA is adhering to the World Anti-Doping Code, then that is its prerogative. In the fight against doping, we are doing more than is asked of us, maybe we are doing too much."
The delegates indicated their satisfaction with FIFA's strong financial situation by unanimously approving the consolidated financial statements for 2004 and the budget for 2006. Nonetheless, President Blatter called for a certain amount of caution from the associations in this regard: "Even though we will have even more funds in the future, we must take care of our revenue and build up reserves."
During this its first Congress on African soil, FIFA also reported that it is planning a worldwide campaign to prevent football injuries, an initiative that, as well as embracing cooperation with state insurers and government authorities, is centred on the FIFA Medical Resource Kit - a comprehensive multimedia reference to assist doctors to treat football-related injuries.
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FIFA COMMUNICATIONS DIVISION / Marrakech, 12 September 2005