It may not be the easiest task to explain exactly what FIFA’s Performance programme is – but in this case, that is a good thing. 

That is because the overarching goal of this special FIFA football development programme is to help its Member Associations become more efficient, accountable and self-sustainable, in specific, tailor-made ways. Through Performance, FIFA assesses how a federation operates from an organisational and commercial point of view, to establish priorities in enhancing this operation and to guide them through the process of improving the way they work. 

As FIFA embraces new reforms to improve governance across the football community, the Performance programme is taking on an extra special significance. 

Take Kyrgyzstan, a country with a population of roughly six million and whose football association, the FFKR, was not founded until 1992, for example. It joined FIFA two years later, and signed up to the Performance initiative in 2013, when FIFA experts led the organisation through a complete review of its processes and its relationships with stakeholders.

“When I joined the FFKR in 2015, it was even difficult for me to understand just how much things had improved in only a few years,” said FFKR General Secretary Dastanbek Konokbaev. “I landed in an organisation that knew how it could be functional. The very fact that my position was created is a consequence of this professionalisation. There is a plan and a roadmap for it.”

Since the initial assessment in 2013, the FFKR has come a long way, establishing a new organisational structure and elaborating on long-term plans for technical development and financial management. With the help of consultants and advisors, a Marketing & Communications division was created in April 2014, when a qualified director was hired and a sponsorship strategy developed. It did not take long for the initiative to bear fruit. 

Since June 2014, the FFKR has generated unprecedented revenue of $362,000, which means a world of difference for a smaller Member Association.

“A good part of this revenue ($156,000)comes from TV & Advertising Rights linked to the (FIFA World Cup™) qualifiers, hence it’s an income that depends on the team’s future draws and campaigns," Konokbaev explained. "But still we must point out how this revenue would not exist without a proactive and professional marketing department.

“On the other hand, it is very encouraging to witness that revenues such as the ones from sponsorship, ticketing and corporate hospitality are growing impressively. This is a direct outcome of Performance’s marketing mentoring process, since these revenue sources were not existing at all before.” 

The full equation is not limited to direct income, though. Helping a federation to manage its operations in a more professional manner improves the chances of football growing and becoming more accessible and successful in that country. This makes the sport more popular and, therefore, even more marketable. It is a virtuous circle of generating both popularity and revenue.

“This is one of the most important points: how much football has become more popular in Kyrgyzstan since it’s been managed in a more structured way,” Konokbaev said. “This is confirmed by a marketing research we did in November 2015 with the support of the Performance programme.”

The accomplishment is measurable beyond the survey, though, as for the first time the federal government of Kyrgyzstan has directed a part of its sports’ budget – a sum of $400,000 – to support the FFKR. 

The Performance programme is available to all 209 FIFA Member Associations, and there are currently just over 100 taking part – ranging from very specific activities in well-established federations, such as a leadership development project in Denmark or a strategic assistance to France’s overseas department, to complete organisational overhauls, similar to Kyrgyzstan’s example, such as Oman and Tanzania.

“The Performance programme comes down to an assistance for the members to develop their own football management skills and to plan their own development path towards success,” said FIFA Senior Development Manager for Africa, Zelkifli Ngoufonja. “And the goal, eventually, is to reduce the existing gap between the wealthiest nations and the developing ones. We’ve seen some very concrete results. These are achievements that make a lasting difference.”