A success story that is far from over

This year FIFA celebrates 25 years of development work - a success story that began in Ethiopia in 1976 and which led to its pioneer, Joseph S. Blatter, revisiting the country in April 2001.

Ethiopia, November 1976. FIFA embarks upon a programme of systematic development work by staging the first course under the newly created FIFA/Coca-Cola Development Programme.

Ethiopia, 1 April 2001. Accompanied by the President of the African Football Confederation (CAF), Issa Hayatou, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter enters the large meeting room at the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) building in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. He looks around. Everything is exactly the same as it was then. The painting on the wall showing the various African presidents still dates back to 1963.

Blatter is no stranger here. He has returned to the place where, in his position as Director of Development Projects, he ran the first ever course under the FIFA/Coca- Cola World Development Programme almost 25 years ago. Of his colleagues at the time only the German Heinz Marotzke, the coordinator of the opening course, is in attendance.

This time Blatter is not here to launch a course, but in his speech he recalls his previous visit, making special reference to the CAF President at the time, the late Yidnekatchev Tessema of Ethiopia, who was a great supporter of FIFA's development programmes. Addressing the guests and representatives of the media who have gathered for a small ceremony, the FIFA President quotes from a circular he sent on 10 April 1976 to the national associations detailing the objectives of the new development programme and remarks that "nothing has changed; these objectives still apply today."

The objectives are:

  • to disseminate technical, administrative and academic expertise among FIFA members;
  • to promote football worldwide, taking into account the specific circumstances in each country;
  • to use the development programme to raise the general level of football so as to give the associations involved an opportunity of playing a stronger role in international football and
  • to implement a broad-based information and promotional campaign to make football better known and more popular.

Since the inaugural course in Ethiopia FIFA has organised 439 courses in the various programmes that have been attended by 30,000 people worldwide (see overview), which corresponds to an average of almost 18 courses per year. From the outset FIFA's development work has been based upon the snowball effect. This means that those attending the courses pass on the knowledge gained to colleagues in their regions. Proof that this objective has been achieved is provided by the fact that originally all the instructors were from Europe but today come from every continent.

Coca-Cola become involved
The success story began with Dr. João Havelange assuming the presidency of FIFA in 1974. In his seven-point election programme, the Brazilian promised to launch a systematic programme of development work and create a world youth championship.

To translate his development policy into action, Havelange brought Blatter to FIFA in 1975 as Director of Development Projects. The signing of a sponsorship agreement with the drinks manufacturer Coca-Cola on 13 May 1976 laid the financial basis for what was then considered to be "the greatest sponsorship involvement in the history of sport" (Evening Standard). Although the agreed USD 5 million may appear a modest amount by today's standards, it was an enormous sum of money 25 years ago. Shortly afterwards another partner was won in the shape of adidas, who went on to form a strong duo with Coca-Cola. On 7-9 November 1976 leading authorities from all over Europe met in Magglingen (Switzerland) to attend a three-day introductory course for instructors in the new development programme. The first ever course took place just a few weeks later in Addis Ababa, from 17 to 27 November.

Over the next three years, teams of four instructors held ten-day training courses in 74 different countries dealing with administration, coaching, refereeing and sports medicine, the four areas covered by the "four-in-one concept".

From Project 1 to Project 7
The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Development Programme, also known as Project 1, was replaced by the FIFA/Coca-Cola International Academy for the period 1980 to 1982. This second programme, also referred to as Project 7, was devoted to the training of top-level coaches. Technical specialists from the national associations in the region attended 13-day courses held at central locations.

This project was superseded by the FIFA/Coca-Cola International Academy, Part II (Project X). Where possible, the specialists who participated in the previous project were invited to attend the courses organised under this development programme. The course content built upon the knowledge gained in Project 7. Once again, the courses were held in centrally located countries with a good transport infrastructure, lasting ten days. Both projects comprised 16 courses attended by a maximum of 40 people.

There then followed a seamless transition to the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Youth Academy in the period 1987 to 1990. Whereas previous programmes focussed on coaches of teams competing at the highest level as well as experts in the various subject areas relating to football, 87 courses aimed at youth-team coaches were staged all over the world within this development programme. Designed for a maximum of 25 to 30 participants, the courses lasted seven days and concentrated on methods of coaching junior players in the various age categories.

FIFA/Coca-Cola Development Programmes conducted so far

  • 1976-1978, World Development Programme (four in one), Courses in administration, coach training, sports medicine and refereeing
  • 1980-1982, International Academy; Courses for national coaches for five participants each from the host couhntry and adjoining countries.
  • 1984-1986, International Academy (Part II); Advanced training courses for participants of the International Academy
  • 1987-1990, World Youth Academy; Courses for youth coaches
  • 1991-1995, FUTORO World Football Development Programme; 6-day courses covering administration, coach training, sports medicine and refereeing
  • 1997-2000, Education Programme FUTURO II; Continuation of the successful FUTURO programmes

2002: Part 7 begins
"Back to the roots" was the motto of the next FIFA development programme, which goes by the name of Futuro. Talks held with the confederations have revealed that more grass-roots work needs be done in the areas of coaching, administration, refereeing and sports medicine. The "four-in-one" principle applied in Project 1 was reactivated for the period 1991 to 1995 in 136 courses attended by almost 11,000 people worldwide.

The concept was retained for the successor programme FUTURO II , which ran from 1997 to 2000, although the standard was raised slightly and the course content was updated and modernised. A total of 110 six-day courses with 90 participants each were organised across the globe.

Besides the FIFA/Coca-Cola courses, FIFA's development work in all this time incorporated courses held in conjunction with Olympic Solidarity and in direct collaboration with the national associations and confederations. On balance, the results of FIFA's development work to date have been positive. The clearest evidence of this is provided by the improved performances at FIFA-staged competitions of teams from the African, Asian and Central American associations, not only in the junior sector but also at the highest level, as demonstrated by the increased number of places at the FIFA World CupTM when compared to the situation 25 years ago.

The next chapter in the success story that is FIFA's development work is currently at the planning stage. In February 2001 an instructors course took place in Zurich during which the results of Futuro II were analysed. The main conclusion drawn by those attending the course was that the "four-in-one concept" should be retained. They also felt that more courses should be specifically tailored to the needs of the individual national associations. Plans were also laid to integrate courses in women's football and futsal at the various levels of ability.

At present the seventh FIFA development programme has no name and no detailed concept. What can be said is that the new project will get under way in 2002 and will lend itself to integration in the existing Goal programme.

Goal offers tailer-made solutionsGoal is one of the most interesting development programmes ever launched in football. "Goal is based on an idea of mine which fits splendidly into the football development programme that FIFA has been carrying out ever since development work began in 1976. Goal provides tailor-made solutions for a national association's specific needs," said FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, the inspiration behind this latest development programme, which has started off well and has a promising future.

Goal differs from other aid programmes in that potential beneficiaries are asked to state exactly what their requirements are instead of having ideas from other sources being imposed upon them. The Extraordinary FIFA Congress in 1999 passed a four-year plan and agreed that a total sum of CHF 100 million be made available to Goal for the period stretching from 1999 to 2002.

First of all, the organisation of this project had to be worked out. Then, so-called Development Offices , run by football specialists (Development Officers), were set up in every confederation. So far, seven Development Offices have opened their doors, namely in Kuala Lumpur, Gaborone, Port of Spain, Auckland, Cairo, Asunción and Moscow. Another three offices are planned during the course of this year (in Yaoundé, Abidjan and Guatemala City). Goal's main office will, however, be located in FIFA headquarters in Zurich.

Pilot projects
Eleven pilot projects have already been launched in every confederation and some are already nearing their conclusion. Most of the funding has gone to national associations that required refurbished or even new administrative offices. Backing has also been given to national associations that needed an artificial turf pitch to be laid or a sports centre to be built.

At present, about 50 of the 204 FIFA member national associations are currently feeling the benefits of Goal. This number should rise to 100 national associations over the next few months. The ceiling for amounts donated to a project is USD 400,000. If the costs of any project exceed this amount, then additional funding may be drawn from the one million US dollar Financial Assistance Programme or some other financial source. Blatter comments: "The ultimate aim is to pinpoint regional and national sponsors. Financial, social, cultural and political partners should also be encouraged to contribute to this development programme."

In other words, President Blatter means that governments could waive import duties in connection with Goal projects and offer building plots and playing fields to footballers in the community.

It is the Goal Bureau, in which every confederation is represented, which, in the final analysis, decides whether to accept, refuse or postpone a project.