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FIFA Congress

Protect the game, protect the players, strengthen global football governance

FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter on stage during the 59th FIFA Congress
© Foto-net

98% of the FIFA Congress members voted in favour of a declaration about safeguarding the values of football and protecting the game and its players with regard to the principles of the integrity of competitions, the unpredictability of results, sporting ethics and fair play in all areas and at all levels of the global football pyramid (see link to full declaration). In particular, the declaration tackles the following major issues: the protection of players aged under 18, national teams, the identity of clubs and the training of young players at said clubs (6+5 rule), the fight against doping, the promotion of "financial fair play", an in-depth reform of the players' agents system and global football governance.

At the opening of the Congress, the FIFA President had said:* *"The theme of this Congress is protecting the game, protecting the players - above all, young players - and strengthening governance. We shall not only deal with the consequences of the issues but find solutions to tackle the roots, the causes of these issues. This is an added responsibility for all of us. But we have our wonderful game as a tool for hope and emotions. That's why we have to protect our game."

Protection of minorsSpeaking about the protection of minors, Joseph S. Blatter said to the assembly: "It is our duty to the youth of the world to protect young players. We must do it together. Stop the slavery of these young players!" The declaration fully supports the measures decided by the FIFA Executive Committee in March 2009 (see FIFA circular no. 1190), which will come into force on 1 October 2009 and include the following:

  • a sub-committee of the Players' Status Committee will be in charge of the examination and possible approval of every international transfer of a minor player, which could be justified by one of the three exceptions mentioned in the relevant regulations. Approval will also be required for every first registration of a minor player who is not a national of the country in which he wishes to be registered.

  • all football schools independent of already-registered clubs will be obliged to register themselves with the member associations. Moreover, all clubs that operate an academy will be obliged to report all minor players to the association upon whose territory the academy operates. Furthermore, each association is obliged to ensure that all players attending an academy or a football school that is not linked to a club shall be reported to the association.

  • Finally, the value of the training compensation for players aged 12 to 15 will be substantially increased as a deterrent against the poaching of young talents.


    "At this year's Congress, it is not about adopting a formal decision on a regulation for 6+5," commented Joseph S. Blatter. "When and *if the Lisbon Treaty is adopted, then we will come back to you and ask you if you're still behind us, supporting this rule, which is *to protect the national teams, the training in clubs and the identity of these clubs. This is not only for Europe, but for the world," he added.

    The Treaty of Lisbon, currently in the process of ratification, comprises a very clear article 165 on:

    • the "specificity of sport" and its "structures" and its "social and educational role"
    • the need to preserve the "openness and the fairness" of competitions

    An INEA (Institute for European Affairs) study conducted by legal experts concluded in February 2009 that 6+5 is compatible with European law.

    Players' healthProf. Jiri Dvorak, FIFA's Chief Medical Officer, stressed that prevention has a significant impact on the reduction of injuries. This is particularly illustrated by "The 11+" (see link below), a series of physical exercises created by FIFA's Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F-MARC). Moreover, based on experiments conducted by F-MARC, results show that the practice of football is beneficial for health. FIFA has launched a campaign featuring international football stars to promote health through football. On 17-18 October 2009, the FIFA member associations will gather in Zurich for a FIFA Medical Network conference.

    DopingThe Congress was informed that FIFA is currently working, together with WADA, on a programme aimed at developing a biological passport, which, among other things, consists of a periodical examination of blood and urine. Almost 30,000 doping controls per year are conducted in football with an incidence of 0,3% (for anabolics, the annual incidence is 0,03 %). As WADA confirmed on 29 May, the 2009 FIFA Anti-Doping Regulations comply with the World Anti-Doping Code. WADA Director General David Howman was present at this year's FIFA Congress.

    Stadiums and securityDuring his address to the Congress members, Joseph S. Blatter stated: "It is *your duty in your association and with your clubs to ensure security. I know you do not have the power to do this alone. But you have to work together with the political authorities, the police or the army in your country to ensure that football is organised with security and order. We have instructed our referees and match commissioners to not kick off the game until order and security are ensured in and around the stadium." On the subject of stadiums, Joseph S. Blatter commented that "spectators should be seated, not standing. People are more quiet when they are seated. And there should be no fences. Fences in stadiums are not adequate."*

    Change of association (art. 18 of the Regulations Governing the Application of the FIFA Statutes)58% of the Congress members approved an amendment to the current article. So far, players eligible to change associations in order to play for another national team could only do so until their 21st birthday. The Congress has now decided to lift this age limit, but has maintained all the other provisions of art. 18.

    Autonomy of sportThe Congress approved amendments to the FIFA Statutes regarding the independence of member associations.

    *FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009 / 2010 FIFA World Cup South AfricaTM
    Dr Irvin Khoza, chairman of the South African Local Organising Committee, made a report about the preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ as well as the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009, which kicks off in 11 days' time.

    Executive CommitteeA tribute was paid to Dr Viacheslav Koloskov (Russia) and Slim Chiboub (Tunisia), whose mandates within the FIFA Executive Committee have come to an end. At the same time, the Congress welcomed new Executive Committee members Hany Abo Rida (Egypt) and Vitaly Mutko (Russia).

    205 FIFA member associations attended the 59th FIFA Congress (Angola, Lebanon and Yemen were absent). At the start of the proceedings, the Congress approved the agenda of the 2009 FIFA Congress, which included the following amendment: the FIFA Executive Committee withdrew its proposal to discuss the eligibility criteria for the Men's Olympic Football tournaments. Instead, a task force comprising members of the international football family will be created to discuss this issue.

    The Congress also approved the minutes of the 2008 FIFA Congress in Sydney, the 2008-2009 FIFA Activity Report, the consolidated financial statements for 2008, the detailed budget for 2010 and an amendment regarding the FIFA standing committees.

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