FIFA has held its first Executive Football Summit, one of the key initiatives introduced as part of the FIFA reforms, in Paris on 22 and 23 November. The series of summits will bring together member association presidents and general secretaries to discuss strategic matters and provide a platform for discussion, debate and an exchange of know-how.

“It is important that in future the decisions at FIFA are not dictated from the top but really come from those who have to engage with and organise football in their countries every day, and that is why it is important that we use their feedback and input to develop our programmes,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

Each summit brings together the representatives of around 20 member associations and is divided into two half-day workshop sessions, conducted in an informal setting to allow open and constructive dialogue. The inaugural meeting in Paris brought together top executives from French-speaking countries across Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and Oceania showcasing a wide range of experiences.

“We’ve enjoyed a familiar atmosphere, a football-loving atmosphere, with deep discussions at the same time,” said the President of the Haiti Football Association, Yves Jean Bart. “I’ve heard comments from African colleagues that have shown me that the world of football is the same everywhere and we all face the same issues. I think we should get to know each other better, understand each other better, appreciate each other more and probably develop joint actions.”

The main topic on the agenda of the Paris summit was FIFA’s revamped development programme, Forward, which raised great interest and many questions among the member associations. “Today, we can see that the Forward Programme will allow improvements to be made in the governance and management of national associations. Through Forward we can review the whole administrative structure of an association,” said President of the Democratic Republic of Congo FA and FIFA Council member Constant Omari.

“It gives us the opportunity to give and receive feedback about projects and programmes. We receive clarification and can better understand some topics that we often find unclear,” explained Jean Bart.

“The programmes presented by FIFA are very interesting, extremely positive,” added the President of the French Football Association, Noël Le Graet. “I think that, in a short time frame, FIFA has done a great deal of work. I see that FIFA has a sharing nature and I like that. All of the smaller, less privileged associations really need FIFA.”

The 11 FIFA Executive Football Summits will be held in six venues around the world between November 2016 and March 2017. Following the launch in Paris, two summits will take place in Singapore (6-8 December), two in Miami (17-18 January), two in Doha (14-16 February), two in Addis Ababa (21-23 February) and two in London (7-9 March). Key findings from the discussions will then be fed back to the relevant decision-making bodies within FIFA.