The curtain has today come down on the last of a series of 11 FIFA Executive Summits held in six venues across the world.
London provided the setting for this concluding stage, with FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Marco van Basten, FIFA’s Chief Officer for Technical Development, among the speakers. On the agenda were important topics such as the ‘FIFA 2.0’ roadmap, football development, the role of compliance, technical/youth development and the future of FIFA youth competitions.
Reflecting on this summit and the series as a whole, the FIFA President said: “It has been a very interesting platform where we have involved all the member associations in discussing the future of FIFA. This time, we focused in particular on football development matters: on the new Forward Programme, investments and how we want to take development to the next level. For me and, I think, everyone involved, it has been a really enriching experience. Together, we’ll now move forward and do some good things for football.”
There were similarly enthusiastic sentiments expressed by the member association representatives present. “I think this FIFA Executive Summit has been absolutely wonderful,” enthused Isha Johansen, president of the Sierra Leone Football Association. “It’s a great initiative and it brings us all together to understand the programmes and objectives as a group, and as a family.”
These Executive Summits, each of which has included representatives of around 20 member associations, were introduced as part of FIFA’s reforms. The current series, which launched in Paris in November 2016 and has continued in Singapore, Miami, Doha and Johannesburg, has successfully brought together member association presidents and general secretaries to discuss strategic matters and provide a platform for discussion, debate and an exchange of knowhow.
For Anthony Johnson, president of the St. Kitts and Nevis Football Association, one of their key achievements has been providing a platform for direct, face-to-face communication between associations. “Coming out of this,” he explained, “the bigger associations will see some of the issues that the smaller associations experience. Having bilateral meetings with them as well will enable them to form greater alliances with these smaller territories.”
The English Football Association is, of course, one of the biggest, and its president, Greg Clarke, expressed a readiness to assist wherever possible in developing football across the world. He said: “We’re not universally capable in all things but anything we can do well, we’re quite willing to help other people to find their way, transfer expertise, sit down and help them solve their problems – and learn from them too.”
Clarke lauded FIFA’s new leadership for “setting a strong example” and, reflecting positively on the latest summits, called for “more of the same”. In that respect, FIFA stands ready to oblige, with Chief Member Associations Officer Joyce Cook vowing that this current series will be the first of many.
“This is an annual commitment as part of the reform package, so we will start again in October,” she explained. “The intent is to go right around the globe and that this is a cycle that repeats year on year.
“Summits such as these really enable us to reach out on a very personal level with the member associations, bringing them together with the FIFA administration. This is their chance to speak to us about what we can do better to help support them in the development of football.”