The FIFA Congress, which has met annually since 1998, constitutes an important event on the football calendar. This year’s edition is due to take place in Zurich on Tuesday and Wednesday, and in addition to holding elections, it will host a number of discussions all revolving around the theme of protecting the game.

The 61st edition of the FIFA Congress will be held in Zurich’s Hallenstadion and, as usual, there is a wide range of subjects up for debate. This year, however, each topic will relate to the core issue of protecting and improving the game.

As with every major event organised by world football’s governing body, the Congress will kick off with its traditional opening ceremony, after which delegates will look back at FIFA events and activities in 2010. This will include approving the minutes of the 60th FIFA Congress held in Johannesburg last year, the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ – the first to be held on African soil – and its legacy, as well as the FIFA Activity Report and the financial report on the past year. This will also be the occasion to touch on events to come, in particular future FIFA Congresses and the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which is already looming on the horizon.

Protecting the game and players
Next on the agenda will be a number of strategic and sports-political matters, all of which will be raised with a common goal: to protect the game and players as much as possible. Among the topics covered will be the Early Warning System (EWS) which combats match-fixing, and the issue of player eligibility in club competitions, with FIFA wishing to encourage young players and protect the pool of players for representative teams. Other initiatives designed to protect players include the Transfer Matching System (TMS), which aims to make international transfers more transparent and protect minors, and a reform of the system of players’ agents.

The same desire to protect the game was also behind the creation of the FIFA Task Force Football 2014, a panel headed by Franz Beckenbauer. The task force met for the first time on 10 May and will feature in the discussions at the Congress, as will medical issues, the Football for Hope movement and the ‘Zero Tolerance’ principle, developed in association with Interpol to combat illegal betting.

After the discussion and presentation phase is over, it will be time for the Congress delegates to vote, with proposals for amendments to the FIFA Statutes first to face the ballot. Voting will thus take place on the statute regarding players and the statute regarding suspension of a member by FIFA’s Executive Committee, plus whether the Internal Audit Committee should be renamed the Audit Committee; the Regulations Governing International Matches adopted by the Executive Committee in March; and a proposal submitted by the United Arab Emirates Football Association concerning whether players should become eligible to represent countries they have lived in for less than five years.

Lastly, following a discussion of proposals submitted by other member associations and FIFA’s Executive Committee, the 61st FIFA Congress will close with the election of the President, an event which, like the FIFA World Cup, takes place every four years. will be streaming live video of the Congress and the press conference due to held afterwards so that you can follow all the events as they happen in Zurich.