The International FA Board (IFAB)

New IFAB artwork
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Ever since it was founded in the 19th century, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) has played a vital role in international football. It acts as the guardian of the Laws of the Game and is responsible for studying, modifying and overseeing any changes to it.

In late 1848, a meeting of reputable private schools in Cambridge, England convened to establish a set of reasonable football regulations. This historic meeting was the first step towards a universal set of rules. Fifteen years later, the English Football Association (FA) was established under a banner of 14 official rules.

The first-ever IFAB meeting took place in 1886 when the English FA, conscious of the need for standardisation, invited their Irish, Scottish and Welsh counterparts to join forces to come up with a uniform code. Up until then, different rules had applied in different countries.

Since its foundation in 1904, FIFA, as football's world governing body, sought to team up with IFAB. The first real steps were made in that direction two years later, in 1906, when Englishman Daniel Burley Woolfall became FIFA President. And although the 1908 and 1912 Olympic Football Tournaments were run under the FA's supervision, FIFA began to take part in meetings from 1913 onwards.

Four representatives from FIFA and one each from England, N. Ireland, Scotland and Wales meet at an Annual General Meeting where they set out to identify, study and accept or reject possible alterations to the Laws.

Four weeks before the AGM, which following an amendment at the 117th meeting in 2003, takes place in either February or March, the associations must send their written proposals to the secretary of the host association. FIFA then prints a list of suggestions that are distributed to all other associations for examination. For a motion to be accepted, a three-quarters majority is needed.

A second annual meeting between the bodies, the Annual Economic Meeting, is held between September and October and touches on issues that concern the Board outside the Laws of the Game.

Why have there been so few changes to the Laws over the years? Why is the IFAB considered to be a conservative organisation? The answer to these questions is straightforward: the attraction of the game of football resides in its simplicity. And as guardian to its Laws, the IFAB seeks to preserve the original seeds on which the football has blossomed so spectacularly.

The text, whose source language is in English, was most recently altered in 1997 when modifications to style resulted in a 30% reduction in its length.