At the FIFA Centennial Congress, the football association of New Caledonia was welcomed into the world football family as the 205th FIFA member association. The associations' delegates also ratified an addition to the statutory provisions that govern eligibility to play for Association teams.
Following yesterday's celebrations and the Centennial matches in the Stade de France, the associations' delegates had an array of Congress matters to deal with on Friday, 21 May. As well as ratifying a declaration regarding the fight against doping and approving a pardon for Cameroon (see separate media releases), the associations voted to accept New Caledonia as FIFA's 205th member association.
Therefore, 204 of FIFA's 205 associations attended the Congress, as only the Yemen Football Association was not present at FIFA's birthday celebrations. With the exception of Afghanistan, Djibouti and Niger, all of the associations were entitled to deliberate on the Congress business. These three associations were not entitled to vote as they had not participated in at least two FIFA competitions in the last four years, and had therefore not fulfilled the conditions laid down in art. 14, par. 4 of the FIFA Statutes.
In other matters, the delegates approved an addition to art. 15 of the Regulations Governing the Application of the FIFA Statutes, according to which the Executive Committee shall decide on the conditions regarding the eligibility of "any player who assumes a new nationality and for whom paragraph 3 of this article does not apply, or for any player who in principle would be eligible to play for the teams of more than one Association due to his nationality."
This addition had become necessary because in early 2004, a number of Brazilian players had expressed an intention to represent Qatar. These players had referred to article 15 paragraph 1 of the Regulations Governing the Application of the FIFA Statutes, which states that if a player has never represented an Association at official level, he may assume another nationality and play for the national team of that country's Association. However, on 17 March 2004, the FIFA Emergency Committee decided that players who had acquired the nationality of a country despite having no clear connection to that country would not be eligible to play for that Association's national teams.
Proceedings at the FIFA Centennial Congress drew to a close with the installation of Slim Chiboub (Tunisia) as a new African representative on the FIFA Executive Committee. Slim Aloulou (Tunisia), Chiboub's predecessor on the FIFA executive, was named an honorary FIFA member, as was Abdullah Al-Dabal (Saudi Arabia).
According to the new FIFA Statutes, which came into force on 1 January 2004, FIFA must hold an Ordinary Congress each year. The next Congress will be held in Zurich in 2005.