As the supreme legislative body of FIFA, the FIFA Congress has been the stage for every important organisational decision taken in the world of football since its first edition in 1904. Each of the previous 64 meetings have certainly resulted in significant resolutions, but we look back at ten key milestones in the history of the FIFA Congress in the build-up to this year’s 65th edition on 29 May.
1*st* FIFA Congress, Paris, France, 1904: The foundation
Representatives of the seven founding members - Belgium, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland - met between 21 and 23 May at 229 Rue Saint Honoré, Paris to sign the foundation act, define the first FIFA Statutes and to vote unanimously for Frenchman Robert Guérin as the federation’s first President.
7*th* FIFA Congress, Milan, Italy, 1910: Reaching beyond Europe
The global character of FIFA started to take shape between 15 and 16 May 1910, when the FIFA Congress - then led by President Daniel Burley Woolfall, from England - endorsed the affiliation of the South African Football Association as the first member association from outside of Europe.
18*th* FIFA Congress, Barcelona, Spain, 1929: The first FIFA World Cup
**Twenty-three associations were present by 1929 when the hosting of the FIFA World Cup was awarded for the first time. Just 12 months after it had first been discussed at the previous Congress in Amsterdam, Jules Rimet's dream of an international tournament began to come together, as Uruguay was announced as host of the inaugural edition the following year.
21*st* FIFA Congress, Stockholm, Sweden, 1932: A new home for FIFA
**Awarding the hosting of the second FIFA World Cup to Italy was only one of the major decisions taken by the FIFA Congress in 1932. That was also the occasion when FIFA decided to move its permanent offices to Zurich, in Switzerland, where the organisation is still based.
25*th* FIFA Congress, Luxembourg, 1946: The return of the British
**The official minutes of the first FIFA Congress staged after the Second World War describe it as “one of the most significant ever held”. No wonder: that was when the FIFA World Cup trophy was renamed in the honour of President Jules Rimet; when Brazil and Switzerland were voted as hosts of the following two FIFA World Cups and, most importantly, when the four British associations - England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland - returned to FIFA after an absence of almost 20 years.
32*nd* FIFA Congress, Rome, Italy, 1960: African emergence
**Until 1960, FIFA had only a handful of African members and the Congress in Rome marked the start of a surge in membership, with the admission of Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Kenya, Morocco and Tunisia. That was also the year when the FIFA Congress took a firm anti-discrimination stance with the resolution that “football matches should be open to all people, regardless of race or religion”.
46*th* FIFA Congress, Zurich, Switzerland, 1988: Fair play, please
The focal point of the 46th FIFA Congress was FIFA's fair play* *campaign, which undoubtedly had the right spokesman in the person of Pelé, who joined then-FIFA Secretary General Joseph S. Blatter to present the initiative with the intention of spreading the message via the Confederations and Member Associations.
50*th* FIFA Congress, Zurich, Switzerland, 1996: A sixth Confederation
In a world fresh from major geopolitical changes, the 1996 FIFA Congress brought about a number of noteworthy decisions, particularly the ratification of the membership of the Palestine Football Association and, by 170 votes to 1, the recognition of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) as an official confederation.* *
Extraordinary FIFA Congress, Doha, Qatar, 2003: New Statutes for FIFA
The 2003 Congress was the first to be attended by every member association, at that time numbering 204, and the first ever to be held in the Middle East. The most important item on the agenda was the unanimous ratification of the new FIFA Statutes, which came into effect on 1 January 2004. Among the major innovations are the rewording of FIFA’s objectives to emphasise its mission: namely to improve the game of football constantly and promote it globally, the establishment of a Code of Ethics, and the precise definition of the role, duties and responsibilities of the President compared to those of the Executive Committee and the Secretary General.
61*st* FIFA Congress, Zurich, Switzerland, 2011: Commitment to the reform process
As he was elected for another four-year term as the FIFA President, Joseph S. Blatter presented the FIFA Congress with a set of proposals in terms of good governance, transparency and zero tolerance towards wrongdoing on and off the pitch. Following the gathering, the FIFA Executive Committee agreed on a process that included the creation of four task forces, mandated to propose reforms; the creation of an Independent Governance Committee and the establishment of a two-year FIFA Good Governance road map.
The first major steps of such reform process were ratified in the 62nd Congress in Budapest, Hungary, which approved proposals such as the strengthening of FIFA’s Ethics Committee - henceforth divided into two distinct chambers, the investigatory and the adjudicatory - and the establishment of an Audit and Compliance Committee with increased scope, all besides the historical creation of a new seat for a female member on the FIFA Executive Committee. The island of Mauritius provided the setting for the 63rd FIFA Congress, where a final set of governance reform proposals was voted, including amendments to the FIFA Statutes to further regulate such vital issues as the candidature for the presidency and the bidding process for the hosting of FIFA World Cups.