The FIFA Congress convened at the Zurich Hallenstadion today, Thursday, 31 May. Incumbent President Joseph S. Blatter has been confirmed, by acclamation, in his position for a third term of office and Montenegro have been admitted, again by acclamation, as FIFA's 208 th member.
As anticipated, Joseph S. Blatter, the eighth President in FIFA's history, has been granted a third period of office (see separate media release). Almost all of the members of world football's supreme body were present to witness his re-election. The only absentee was the Kuwait Football Association. Following the admission of Montenegro there were 207 member associations in attendance, although only the associations of Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau were not to entitled to vote as they had not met the statutory requirements regarding minimum participation in FIFA competitions. Consequently, 205 associations had the right to vote, leaving the simple majority at 103 votes, and the three-quarter majority required for amendments to the FIFA Statutes at 154 votes.
Blatter's re-election and the admission of Montenegro were both confirmed by a round of applause. Retired football star Dejan Savicevic, who is now the President of the Montenegrin association, thanked the FIFA family on behalf of the new member. The Football Association of Montenegro, founded in 1931, was for many years part of the former Yugoslavia, but the association has now been admitted as a member in its own right in the wake of Montenegro's recent independence.
One of the main points on the congress agenda was a report from the Task Force "For the Good of the Game". The congress approved various principles and gave the Executive Committee the mandate to implement them, and with 204 votes for and none against, the congress also gave the go-ahead for the newly formed Strategic Committee to continue with the task force's work (see separate media release). This committee will ultimately grow into an international football forum with key figures from all sectors of football, including representatives of the players and the clubs.
The congress also ratified a number of amendments to the FIFA Statutes. As such, FIFA is now entitled to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against any doping decisions passed by its member associations or by the confederations (202 votes, 1 against). This right of appeal is an important step in the fight against doping and it brings FIFA into line with the World Anti-Doping Code. With 198 votes for and only three against, the congress also strengthened FIFA's position by approving an amendment to article 62 of the statutes. As a result, the associations are now obliged to insert a clause in their statutes or regulations, stipulating that disputes affecting the football family may not be taken to ordinary courts of law.
In addition, article 13 of the FIFA Statutes now requires each association to create an independent Referees Committee that is directly subordinate to the association (204 votes, 1 against). Finally, with 198 votes for and only five against, the congress also approved a proposal that in future, FIFA may as a general rule only bestow the title of Honorary Vice-President or Honorary Member on former members of the FIFA Executive Committee.
At the start of proceedings this morning, the FIFA Congress approved - virtually unanimously and by acclamation - the agenda for the 2007 congress, the minutes of the 2006 congress in Munich, the FIFA Activity Report and FIFA's finances. In his explanation of FIFA's current financial situation, General Secretary Urs Linsi noted that by the end of the 2003-2006 period, FIFA had considerably surpassed its original equity target of CHF 500 million as the governing body now had equity amounting to CHF 752 million. Looking ahead to the 2007-2010 period, Linsi predicted a more modest increase to USD 850 million, explaining that FIFA would be increasing its development budget by 50 per cent from USD 457 million to USD 690 million in order to meet its many responsibilities. Next year's FIFA Congress will take place in Sydney, Australia between 28 and 30 May 2008.