Seven associations - France, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain(Madrid FC), Sweden and Switzerland founded FIFA on 21 May 1904 in therear of the headquarters of the Union Française de Sports Athlétiques atthe rue Saint Honoré 229 in Paris. Since then, FIFA has moved to thefront in every respect and has grown to 203 national associations.
As a global oriented federation, it was inevitable that, from the wordgo, FIFA should become involved in world affairs and their political,economic and social ramifications.During the past 95 years, thevicissitudes of the world left deep imprints on events. Some countriesdisappeared from the political and sporting face of the earth for awhile or even for ever while others emerged under different names. Whatthe future will hold is unknown but one thing is sure: the game offootball will continue to captivate the interest of the entire world.
Where it all began: rue Saint Honoré 229 in Paris
First FIFA Statutes
On 14 April 1905, the Executive Committee of the Football Association Ltd. recognized the National Associations affiliated to FIFA and joined. This was FlFA's first big success, thanks to Baron Edouard de Laveleye. With great personal efforts, the President of the Union Belge des Sociétés de Sports Athlétiques dissipated the last misgivings and doubts of the English. The Baron became the first honorary member of FIFA.
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The second FIFA Congress took place in Paris from 10 to 12 June 1905. In the meantime, the Associations from Germany, Austria, Italy and Hungary had joined FIFA; Scotland, Wales and Ireland would follow England's example. And one was already talking about an international competition to take place in 1906. It would consist of four groups and Switzerland would be in charge of Organising the semi-finals and the Final. According to its meaning, one first thought of staging it with the best club teams. Moreover, the Swiss VicePresident Victor Schneider had already donated a trophy.
The FIFA Executive Committee was elected for a further year in the same composition, but now the difficulties were accumulating. The first international competition was a failure. Various National Associations had other major worries. The French Football Association was split up internally. These difficulties were a heavy burden for the FIFA President who had set about his tasks with so much enthusiasm. Robert Guérin increasingly withdrew from the sports life and handed over the administration to his Vice-President Victor E. Schneider and André Espir, his personal assistant.
Daniel Burkley Wollfall
This was clearly revealed at the next Congress in Bern in 1906. Victor E. Schneider conducted negotiations in the absence of the FIFA President, Robert Guérin. The Englishman, Daniel Burley Woolfall was elected new President. He was a pragmatist and had gathered a great deal of experience on the administrative board of the Football Association. Under his guidance, English and continental football became more united. Moreover, he also launched an inexorable battle for uniformity in the Laws of the Game.
England won the first Olympic Football Tournament in London in 1908
The Congress which, in accordance with the Statutes, was to be held in different cities on an annual basis, was always presided over by President Woolfall. The will to impose uniform football rules on an international level always figured at the top of the Agenda. This had a very positive effect, resulting in the basic rules of the organisation, which are still partly valid today and which allowed FIFA to create a solid base and develop clear guidelines in those days already.
1913 FIFA Congress in Copenhagen
FIFA only consisted of European Associations up until 1909. The first members from overseas joined in the following order: South Africa in 1909/1910, Argentina and Chile in 1912, USA in 1913. This was the start of FlFA's international activities. The long path towards full expansion had been sketched out.
The start of the first World War (1914) caused a major interruption. Who talked then about football and its mission to unite nations? And yet, all the international relations were not broken, even if they were only maintained on a small scale. International matches were still played, being organised on neutral territory. However, some members were faced with difficulties when having to cross frontiers and this prevented Congress being convened. The dream of having an international competition seemed to have evaporated forever. FIFA dozed on and President Daniel Burley Woolfall died in 1918.
If FIFA did not fade out completely, this was thanks to one man only: Carl Anton Wilhelm Hirschmann, who carried out his tasks as Honorary Secretary from his offices in Amsterdam and carefully kept the organisation alive. Within the scope of his limited possibilities, he maintained correspondence with his foreign colleagues. This way, he looked after the FIFA Secretariat on his own and at his expense. Hirschmann had an incredible capacity for work and was very unselfish. He dedicated his life to sports and particularly so to football. He served the Netherlands Football Association in various functions and also belonged to his national Olympic Committee. One of the founders himself, he took up contact with all the members at the end of the war, on the initiative of the President of the French Football Association, Jules Rimet. Hirschmann actually convened an assembly in Brussels in 1919. However, negotiations advanced tediously. After a long, bloody war, wounds had not yet healed. Many delegates, particularly the English, did not yet want to accept yesterday's foes.
So, a new meeting was held in Antwerp in 1920. A new administrative Board of FIFA was elected on a provisional basis. It was composed of the following: Jules Rimet as Chairman, the Dane, Louis Oestrup as Deputy Chairman and Carl Anton Wilhelm Hirschmann as honorary Secretary.
The results of this election were then submitted to all affiliated Associations which unanimously gave their approval by mail. This was the last time that such a procedure was employed, as the next Statutes excluded voting by mail or by mandate.
Right from the start, Jules Rimet was not unknown. He had already participated in the Congress in Christiania in 1914 as representative of the French Football Association. The following proposal was ratified on that occasion: " Under the condition that the Olympic Tournament take place in accordance with the Regulations of FIFA, the lager shall recognize this as a world football championship for amateurs." In order not to lose every possibility of organising its own world championship, FIFA was ready to assume the responsibility for the organisation of the football tournament for the first time.
It was a great success right away and the results were surprising. 24 national teams entered. The English continued staying away from this tournament but the Americans were there and a team representing faraway Uruguay showed how football was played in South America, much to the delight of the public. Uruguay's results were astounding: 7:0 against Yugoslavia, 3:0 against USA, 5:1 against France, 2:1 against the Netherlands. 60,000 spectators followed the Final between Uruguay and Switzerland, which was won by the South Americans 3:0. Uruguay became the Olympic winners and were celebrated as world champions in Montevideo. South America's predominance was even more impressive at the Olympic Tournament in Amsterdam in 1928. Uruguay did not want to relinquish their victory on that occasion either. The opponents in the Final were Argentina.
This resonance at the Olympic Games intensified FlFA's wish for its own world championship. Questionnaires were sent to the affiliated Associations, asking whether they agreed to the organisation of a world championship and under what conditions. A special Committee examined this problem. President Jules Rimet was the driving force in all sectors in the search for the means to materialize this dream. He was aided by the untiring Secretary of the French Football Association, Henri Delaunay.
Following a remarkable proposal of the Executive Committee, the FIFA Congress in Amsterdam on 28 May 1928 decided to stage a world championship organised by FIFA. Now, the organising country had to be chosen. Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Hungary submitted their candidatures. Right from the start, Uruguay was the favourite for important reasons: The twofold Olympic winner (in 1924 and 1928) was celebrating its 100th Anniversary of independence in 1930 at great expense.
Moreover, the Football Association was ready to take over all the costs as for example, the passage and accommodation of the participants. Any possible profit would be shared, while Uruguay would take over the deficit. These arguments were decisive. The FIFA Congress in Barcelona in 1929 assigned Uruguay as first organising country for the World Cup. The other candidates had withdrawn.
This decision did not only meet acclaim. Europe was plunged in the midst of an economic crisis. Participation in a World Cup did not only involve a long sea journey for the Europeans; the clubs would have to renounce their best, permanent players for two months. More and more Associations broke their promise to participate, thereby seriously endangering the organisation of the World Cup.
Opening of the first World Cup in Uruguay in 1930
The World Cup in Montevideo - all the matches were played in the same stadium - became a remarkable success, both in a sporting and a financial sense. Of course, the organisers were disappointed since only four national teams from Europe participated. The anger in Montevideo was so intense that four years later, the world champions - for the first and only time renounced defending their title.
The Congress convened in Budapest in 1930 and thanked Uruguay for staging the World Cup for the first time in difficult conditions. On the other hand, it regretted seeing only a minimum number of teams participating from Europe.
Another setback had been borne in 1932. Before the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, differences of opinion could not be clarified on the international Olympic Committee regarding the amateur status of football players. So, FIFA decided not to organise an Olympic Football Tournament.
Sweden and Italy applied as candidate countries for the 2nd series of the World Cup at the 1932 Congress in Stockholm. The Executive Committee decided on Italy. Qualifying matches had to be played in order to arrive at the 16 finalists. Right from the start, the Cup system applied and so, the national teams from Brazil and Argentina already had to return home after their first defeat. Once again, the home team prevailed: Italy won the Final against Czechoslovakia in extra-time. For the first time ever, the World Cup Final was being transmitted on the radio.
Draw for 1938 World Cup in Paris. Jules Rimet helping his grandson
1946 saw the return of the four British Associations to FIFA. This was again thanks to the diplomatic talent of Jules Rimet who found in Arthur Drewry and Sir Stanley Rous farsighted partners in the other party. Both would head FIFA in later years. Moreover, the event was celebrated later with a match between Great Britain and a selection from Fl FA played at Hampden Park, Glasgow on 20 May 1947. Titled " Match of the Century" by the press, it was attended by a total of 135,000 spectators and receipts amounted to £35,000. As a sign of goodwill, this sum was placed at FlFA's disposal in order to help the latter get over financial difficulties brought on by the war years. The British won 6:1.
Brazil lost their 1st World Cup title in the Final against Uruguay. For the second time, the "Jules Rimet Cup" remained in Montevideo for four years.
Rodolphe William Seeldrayers
FIFA operations were controlled by the Swiss, Ernst B. Thommen until the Extraordinary Congress on 28 September 1961. As Chairman of the Organising Committee for the 1954,1958 and 1962 World Cups, he did a great deal for the world football federation.
Sir Stanley Rous
When Dr. João Havelange was elected at the 39th Congress in 1974, he was ready to consider football not only as a competition, but also to try and find new ways and means to worldwide technical development and to prepare new generations for this.
Dr. João Havelange's instalation in FIFA's headquarters heralded the dawn of a new era. Previously, with survival depending almost exclusively on limited resources from World Championships in four-yearly intervals, FIFA had been somewhat conservative and reserved when it came to taking decisions. Administrative energy had been concentrated on consolidating and maintaining the status quo. In no time, Havelange transformed an administration-oriented institution into a dynamic enterprise brimming with new ideas and the will to see them through. The actual address in Zurich has not altered but instead of the romantic Dewald Villa on the Zurichberg, where in 1974 a staff of twelve used to coordinate the fate of world football, there is now a modern office building housing over fifty employees coming to grips with an ever increasing workload.
Back in 1974, FIFA was also flexing its muscles in readiness for the tenth World Championship in those days, very much a trial of strength between Europe with nine teams and South America with four. The ripples created by political upheavals, particularly in Africa where many former colonies had been granted independence, were beginning to be noticed on the international sports scene. At that time Africa, Asia, and North/Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF) were each still sending one selection to the world's greatest football fiesta. For the 1982 World Cup in Spain, Havelange increased the table of competitors to twenty-four teams. Since that decision, the unqualified success of teams that used to be derided as also-rans has reinforced Havelange's notion that his policies were right. For the 1998 World Cup in France, the number of participating teams was increased to 32 finalists making it the largest in the history of the event, and allowing even greater participation from all its confederations.
Joseph S. Blatter
Switzerland, since 1998
Before being elected FIFA President, Mr. Blatter was General Secretary of FIFA. Mr Blatter was appointed to this position in November 1981 after a distinguished career in business and sport, and was Chief Executive Officer since 1990.
As the CEO of FIFA's administration, Mr. Blatter has already been in constant contact with the national associations affiliated to FIFA and is in charge of carrying out the decisions of the Executive Committee and ensuring that the members adhere to the Statutes and Regulations while at the same time acting as FIFA’s "foreign minister".