The needs of the FIFA member associations form the basis of the work world football's governing body does. At the fifth FIFA Executive Football Summit of the 2017/2018 series in Amsterdam, representatives from 21 FIFA member associations from three confederations held discussions on the FIFA Forward Programme, the future of youth and women’s competitions, the transfer system and players' status.
What challenges do countries find themselves facing and how do they view the regular interaction the Executive Football Summit offers? *FIFA.com *rounds up some of the reactions.
John Krishnadath, president of the Surinamese Football Association:
"FIFA offers its member associations terrific development projects. That shows that they take the challenges and problems we face in our country seriously. What we value about the Football Summits is that we now know exactly who is responsible for a particular issue and how we should proceed in order to receive support.
"Women's football is something very close to our heart; after all, 50 per cent of the global population is female. However, in Suriname we only have six women's teams so far. The problem is that there's a lot of demand for our grassroots projects, but when the girls turn 12 or 13 they stop playing. That's why it's very important for us to support the age categories under 15 years old and to create opportunities for these youngsters, so that even at that time the girls can test themselves on an international stage."
Alex Miescher, general secretary of the Swiss Football Association:
*"It's always remarkable to see just how different the points of view are within the FIFA family. You suddenly see things that you might take for granted in a completely different light when you talk with other member associations. That's a good thing. Women's and youth football are the main issues for Switzerland. There's often the tendency to think of football as only being about big games and tournaments, but it's a lot more than that. That's why it's important to address individual needs. You need to find tailor-made solutions."
* Yazeen Buhari, general secretary of the Singaporean Football Association:
**"Even with all the differences between the member associations, we're all here for the same reason: football development. We can all work together at the FIFA Football Summits. In Singapore we've made concerted efforts to drive forward the development of the women's game and to implement the FIFA Forward Programme. The help we've received from FIFA in terms of strategic planning has been very valuable. We've still got a lot of work ahead of us but we'll all benefit in the end."
*Rainer Koch, vice president of the German Football Association
*"The world of football is not uniform, but very different. The diverse interests must therefore all be considered in order to arrive at the best overall outcome for the game. Germany's role at the FIFA Football Summits is no different to that of other countries. Obviously Germany is one of the largest FIFA member associations and also one of the best teams at international level, but that does not mean that football needs to be structured exactly the way we think it should be. I enjoy coming here in order to soak up the points of view from other countries and confederations, and to put our point of view across at the same time.
"One of the questions that comes up is whether the number of participating countries at tournaments should be expanded. What advantages would that bring? Smaller nations have a better chance of qualifying. And the disadvantages? The more teams you have, the greater the probability that the quality will suffer. For a country like Germany it's important that a tournament's value in sporting terms does not decrease."
Rignaal Francisca, president of the Curaçaoan Football Association:
*"The decisions that affect the future of football are now made collectively and carried forward. That's very important. For us in Curaçao the principle issue is that of players' status. We're part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, so our players can decide if they want to play for the Netherlands or for Curaçao. But even if they only play a single minute for the Netherlands then according to the regulations there's no going back. That affects a lot of our players and punishes them. That's why we believe it's a matter that needs to be addressed."**
Norman Darmanin Demajo, president of the Maltese Football Association:
*"Communication and cooperation are crucial. As a European country we don't often get the chance to interact at length with associations from different confederations. And you can see that the challenges we face aren't too dissimilar. As a smaller nation, the expectations on us are not as high in sporting terms. I think that makes our work easier in some areas. Our focus lies on improving infrastructure and securing financing for all necessary facilities. In that regard, the FIFA Forward Programme is essential for us as it gives us an overview of how much money we have available for infrastructure, organising competitions and women's football."