The FIFA World Cup will head to South America in 2014 following a decision taken by the FIFA Executive Committee, chaired by President Joseph S. Blatter, on the second day of its meeting at FIFA headquarters in Zurich. This decision fulfilled the long-time wish of CONMEBOL to see the competition return to South America for the first time since Argentina in 1978, and advocates the recommendation of the FIFA Strategic Study Committee. In view of this decision, the executive felt that further discussions regarding the future rotation of the hosting of the FIFA World Cup could provisionally be put on ice.
With regard to the FIFA Club World Championship, the Executive Committee unanimously stood by the decision it took in Zurich on 8 March 2002 to next hold this event in 2005.
The coordinated international match calendar for the 2005–2008 period was endorsed and can now serve as the basis for the coordination of fixture lists for national leagues, continental club and national team championships, as well as for all FIFA competitions
A report from the chairman of the Sports Medical Committee, Dr Michel D'Hooghe (Belgium), on the World Conference on Doping in Sport, held in Copenhagen earlier this week, met with full consent from the executive (see separate media announcements on FIFA.com on this topic explaining FIFA’s position on doping).
Satisfaction was also expressed at the report from the first meeting of the Internal Audit Committee on 5 March as well as the financial status of FIFA at the end of 2002 and the four-year cycle from 1999 to 2002. A detailed rundown of FIFA's finances will be presented at a special media conference once the audit has been completed (see separate media release on the first meeting of Internal Audit Committee).Additional topics covered included:
- The executive confirmed the proposal from the Organising Committee for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany that the confederations governing football in Africa (CAF) and South America (CONMEBOL) be permitted to commence their qualifying competitions this autumn, prior to the Preliminary Draw on 5 December 2003.
- It was decided that a proposal from CONMEBOL to increase the number of finalist teams at the 2006 FIFA World Cup from 32 to 36 must first be discussed in detail with the various parties involved, most notably the hosts of the competition (the German Football Association), before a final decision can be made at the next FIFA Executive Committee meeting on 3 May.
- A code of conduct for the six African candidates bidding to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals was approved. The same code was previously used for the candidates for the 2006 competition.
- The executive was delighted with the work of the Players' Status Committee, under the leadership of Slim Aloulou (Tunisia), and also the positive and constructive dialogue between club and players’ representatives in the Dispute Resolution Chamber. Furthermore, the committee agreed to President Blatter's proposal that the revised FIFA Statutes explain in clearer terms FIFA's responsibilities in matters such as international transfers.
- The executive also heard about discussions with the European Union concerning the special status of sport, due to be laid down in the draft of the new European Constitution.
- The chairman of the Referees' Committee, Angel Maria Villar (Spain), spoke about ongoing work in his area and confirmed his committee’s support for the use of artificial turf. Proposals to the Executive Committee regarding the upper age limit for international referees and the ranking of referees are being prepared by the Referees’ Committee.
- The chairman of the Organising Committee for the Olympic Football Tournaments 2004, Issa Hayatou (Cameroon), reiterated his concerns about the precarious situation regarding a stadium in Athens itself. FIFA hopes to find a concrete solution to this problem during a forthcoming inspection visit on 11–17 March 2003.
- The executive ratified the proposal from the Committee for Women's Football to award the hosting of the second FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship to the Football Association of Thailand.
- The Chinese Taipei Football Association was granted the honour of staging the FIFA Futsal World Championship 2004.
As for beach soccer, the executive decided to gather information from FIFA's member national associations in order to obtain a better insight into this variation of the game.
- The executive backed the request from the chairman of the National Associations Committee, Dr Viacheslav Koloskov (Russia), to make a final effort to solve the conflict between the government and football authorities in Azerbaijan, which has now drawn out for some months. Furthermore, the committee discussed current issues concerning various other national associations, including American Samoa, and also stressed the importance for national associations to respect the Standard Statutes drawn up by FIFA.