The official activities leading up to the 66th FIFA Congress in Mexico City started with a two-day inaugural meeting of the FIFA Council, the supervisory and strategic body that sets the vision for FIFA and global football. The FIFA President opened proceedings with a comprehensive report on his activities since the last FIFA Executive Committee meeting in March, most notably his visits to a number of Member Associations around the world and meetings with FIFA’s commercial affiliates.

Regarding the bidding process for the 2026 FIFA World Cup™, the Council agreed on a four-phase process: a new strategy and consultation phase (May 2016 – May 2017), enhanced phases for bid preparation (June 2017 – Dec 2018), bid evaluation (Jan 2019 – Feb 2020) culminating in a decision in May 2020.

The consultation phase will focus on four areas:

•       The inclusion of human rights requirements, sustainable event management, environmental protection in the bidding

•       Principle of exclusion of bidders that do not meet technical requirements

•       Review of the current stance on joint bids

•       Number of teams

While the consultation process should finish by May 2017, the decision on the number of teams, formats and the eligibility of confederations to bid is expected for October 2016.

In line with the FIFA Statutes and based on the recent decision of CAS, the FIFA Council agreed to request the amendment of the agenda of the 66th Congress in order to submit the Gibraltar FA’s application for FIFA membership under point 15.2. The vote on the admission of the Football Federation of Kosovo precedes this under point 15.1. The Council recommended that the Congress admit Kosovo and Gibraltar as the 210th and 211th FIFA members. It was also confirmed that both associations, if admitted at the 66th Congress, would be entitled to take part in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, with UEFA tasked to define the modalities of their integration in the preliminary competition.

The Council also approved proposed amendments to the Governance Regulations, namely an improved definition of the term “independence”, details on the potential format of the annual associations’ conference, the inclusion of additional gender equality elements, as well as a precise definition of the remit of the Organising Committee for FIFA Competitions. The revised Governance Regulations have been published shortly on FIFA.com.

The Council also received a comprehensive report from the Audit & Compliance Committee, which welcomed the amendments to the Governance Regulations. The procedures for the appointment of standing committees members, as well as the proposals for the election of the chairperson and members of the Governance Committee and other matters will be discussed in an additional meeting of the Council on Friday, 13 May in the morning before the Congress opens. It was also agreed that the confederations and member associations should propose members for the standing committees by 31 July 2016, after which nominees would undergo eligibility checks.

The Council also expressed its full support for the proposed new development regulations and programme, which will be presented by the FIFA President at the FIFA Congress.

Further decisions taken included:

·       A solidarity grant of USD $500,000 for Ecuador following the severe earthquake in April. The funds will be used for renovating and reconstructing football facilities within the affected regions.

·       Uruguay was appointed as the host country for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2018 (20 November – 13 December).

·       In accordance with art. 38 of the FIFA Statutes, the Benin Football Association (FBF) was suspended with immediate effect due to a recent injunction by a local judicial court which impeded the holding of the due election.

·       The FIFA Congress will vote on the confirmation of the suspensions on the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI), the Football Association of Kuwait (KFA), and the Benin Football Association (FBF).

·       Ratification of the decision by the FIFA Emergency Committee not to implement the suspension of the Greek FA as the Greek Cup had been reinstated.

·       Authorisation of the continued participation of New Zealand’s Wellington Phoenix in the Australian A-League for a four-year period (2016/2017 to 2020/2021 seasons).

·       Ratification of the decision of the bureau of the Council to appoint a normalisation committee to run the daily affairs of the Guinea Football Federation (FGF).

·       To bring forward the event dates for the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 by one day to now take place between 6 and 16 December.

The next ordinary meeting of the FIFA Council in its new composition will take place on 13 and 14 October in Zurich. The deadline to elect the new additional Council members in accordance with the FIFA Statutes and the FIFA Governance Regulations is 30 September 2016.