Chaired by FIFA President Blatter, the 64th FIFA Congress convened in Sao Paulo on 10 and 11 June, on the eve of the Opening Match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. In his address to the delegates, FIFA President Blatter outlined the power of football to foster social change – “we must become one of today’s pioneers of hope” – as well as promote health and fight against racism and any form of discrimination. He also stressed the necessity of always acting, in the spirit of fair play, solidarity and integrity, both on and off the field of play.
Fight against racism and discrimination
After last year’s resolution voted by the Congress, FIFA Vice-President Jeffrey Webb reported on activities of the Task Force Against Racism and Discrimination, which he chairs. In his address, FIFA President Blatter backed docking points, expelling teams or relegating them to punish racist and discriminatory offences.
Using the platform of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, FIFA has launched a social media campaign inviting stars, players and fans to #SayNoToRacism, while the quarter-finals of FIFA’s flagship tournament will be dedicated to the fight against discrimination.
Medical Committee chairman Michel D’Hooghe and FIFA Chief Medical Officer Prof. Jiri Dvorak reported on FIFA’s work in this area. The FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre has published a series of scientific papers which prove that playing football on a regular basis contributes to the improvement of public health. The studies were carried out in Denmark, England, Portugal and Brazil with numerous groups, including children aged 9-13 and mature women and men up to the age of 80. This strong scientific evidence is a clear argument in favour of implementing the “FIFA 11 for Health” programme as a global health initiative, which has already been implemented in 19 countries, and the objective for the 2015-2019 period is to reach 100 countries and ten million children.
Handshake for Peace
The Congress welcomed the implementation of the Handshake for Peace, a campaign between FIFA and the Nobel Peace Center to inspire peace, respect and solidarity through the universal gesture of a handshake as part of the pre- and post-match protocol at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, during which team captains and referees will shake hands before and after the match to show their support for the campaign.
Furthermore, FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke informed the Congress that a message about the FIFA World Cup in Brazil tackling discrimination and promoting gender equality and peace would be communicated in the stadium ahead of each of the 64 FIFA World Cup matches.
Following last year’s mandate, FIFA President Blatter updated the Congress on the progress made, in particular with the establishment of the current mechanism. The Congress called upon the Israel Football Association and Palestinian Football Association to further strengthen and deepen the cooperation between them and to work for the signing a memorandum of understanding in the coming months. It also called upon the Israeli government to fully support the implementation of the agreement between the two associations by facilitating the movement of players and officials as well as goods and equipment in and out of Palestine as well as within Palestine. FIFA – in consultation with the AFC and UEFA – will nominate an independent person or committee to be tasked with the monitoring of the mechanism on the ground. This person will report to the FIFA Executive Committee during its December meeting.
Michael J. Garcia, chairman of the investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee, reported to the Congress about the activities of the committee, including on the investigation of the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups (full speech available here).
Executive Committee member Dr Theo Zwanziger gave an overview of the key achievements of FIFA’s governance reform process. Regarding the remaining items, the Congress rejected both the implementation of an age limit for officials, outlining in particular its discriminatory aspect, and the implementation of a limitation of terms of office.
Development and finance
Regarding FIFA’s finances, the Congress approved the 2015-2018 budget (with projected revenues of USD 5 billion and investments of USD 4.9 billion), in which FIFA is set to invest USD 900 million in football development, thus representing a USD 100 million increase in the budget from the current cycle. Today, FIFA redistributes more than USD 500,000 every day into developing football in our 209 member associations (for an overview of the remarkable figures behind FIFA’s daily development work and the key priorities for the next cycle, click here).
The member associations will this year receive two additional bonuses (USD 250,000 immediately, based on the 2011-13 period, and on completion of the 2014 financial year, USD 500,000 at the beginning of 2015); the same model applies to the confederations (who will receive USD 2.5 million immediately and USD 4.5 million at the beginning of 2015).
Concerning the development of women’s football, the Congress approved ten key development principles proposed by the Task Force for Women’s Football, chaired by co-opted Executive Committee member Moya Dodd. Also, development funds for women’s football will double in the next cycle.
In addition, the Congress approved the extension of the mandate of the co-opted female members of the Executive Committee, Moya Dodd (Australia) and Sonia Bien-Aime (Turks and Caicos Islands), by one year.
Fight against match manipulation
The Congress was thoroughly updated on the FIFA Integrity Initiative, which has established a range of measures such as prevention, risk management, detection, information gathering, investigations and sanctions, and which will assist in our efforts to safeguard football’s integrity.
Furthermore, FIFA has extended the radar of Early Warning System GmbH, which will now be monitoring top-flight matches outside Europe, in addition to FIFA competitions.
Third-party ownership of players’ economic rights was also part of the Congress agenda with Dispute Resolution Chamber chairman Geoff Thompson providing the delegates with updates regarding the latest developments relating to this topic. Taking into account the complexity of this issue, the setting up of a dedicated working group was announced under the aegis of FIFA’s Players’ Status Committee with the aim of analysing all of the possible regulatory approaches, with the participation and consultation of all the relevant stakeholders of the international football community.
The Congress approved the necessary statutory amendments allowing for the implementation of the new Regulations on Working with Intermediaries, which had already been approved by the FIFA Executive Committee. These regulations will come into force on 1 April 2015.