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International governing body of association football

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International Association Football Federation
Fédération internationale de football association
Abbreviation FIFA[1]
Founded 21 May 1904; 119 years ago (1904-05-21)
Founded at Paris, France
Type Sports federation
Purpose Sport governance
Headquarters Zürich, Switzerland
Coordinates .mw-parser-output .geo-default,.mw-parser-output .geo-dms,.mw-parser-output .geo-dec{display:inline}.mw-parser-output .geo-nondefault,.mw-parser-output .geo-multi-punct,.mw-parser-output .geo-inline-hidden{display:none}.mw-parser-output .longitude,.mw-parser-output .latitude{white-space:nowrap}47°22′53″N 8°34′28″E / 47.38139°N 8.57444°E / 47.38139; 8.57444
Region served
211 national associations
Gianni Infantino
Senior Vice-President
Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa (AFC)
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Secretary General
Mattias Grafstrom (Interim)
Main organ
FIFA Congress
Affiliations International Olympic Committee
International Football Association Board

The Fédération internationale de football association (French for ‘International Association Football Federation‘;[3] abbreviated as FIFA and pronounced in English as /ˈffə/ FEE-fə) is the international governing body of association football, beach soccer, and futsal. It was founded in 1904[4] to oversee international competition among the national associations of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain (represented by the Madrid Football Club), Sweden, and Switzerland. Headquartered in Zürich, Switzerland, its membership now comprises 211 national associations. These national associations must also be members of one of the six regional confederations into which the world is divided: CAF (Africa), AFC (Asia and Australia), UEFA (Europe), CONCACAF (North & Central America and the Caribbean), OFC (Oceania), and CONMEBOL (South America).

FIFA outlines several objectives in its organizational statutes, including growing association football internationally, providing efforts to ensure it is accessible to everyone, and advocating for integrity and fair play.[5] It is responsible for the organization and promotion of association football’s major international tournaments, notably the World Cup which commenced in 1930, and the Women’s World Cup which began in 1991. Although FIFA does not solely set the laws of the game, that being the responsibility of the International Football Association Board of which FIFA is a member, it applies and enforces the rules across all FIFA competitions.[6] All FIFA tournaments generate revenue from sponsorships; in 2022, FIFA had revenues of over US $5.8 billion, ending the 2019–2022 cycle with a net positive of US$1.2 billion, and cash reserves of over US$3.9 billion.[7]

Reports by investigative journalists have linked FIFA leadership with corruption, bribery, and vote-rigging related to the election of FIFA president Sepp Blatter and the organization’s decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively. These allegations led to the indictments of nine high-ranking FIFA officials and five corporate executives by the U.S. Department of Justice on charges including racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering. On 27 May 2015, several of these officials were arrested by Swiss authorities, who launched a simultaneous but separate criminal investigation into how the organization awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Those among these officials who were also indicted in the U.S. are expected to be extradited to face charges there as well.[8][9][10]

Many officials were suspended by FIFA’s ethics committee including Sepp Blatter[11] and Michel Platini.[12] In early 2017, reports became public about FIFA president Gianni Infantino attempting to prevent the re-elections[13] of both chairmen of the ethics committee, Cornel Borbély and Hans-Joachim Eckert, during the FIFA congress in May 2017.[14][15] On 9 May 2017, following Infantino’s proposal,[16] FIFA Council decided not to renew the mandates of Borbély and Eckert.[16] Together with the chairmen, 11 of 13 committee members were removed. FIFA has been suspected of corruption regarding the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.[17]


The need for a single body to oversee association football became increasingly apparent at the beginning of the 20th century with the increasing popularity of international fixtures. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) was founded in the rear of the headquarters of the Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques (USFSA) at the Rue Saint Honoré 229 in Paris on 21 May 1904.[18] The French name and acronym are used even outside French-speaking countries. The founding members were the national associations of Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain (represented by then-Real Madrid CF; the Royal Spanish Football Federation was not created until 1913), Sweden and Switzerland.

On the same day, the German Football Association (DFB) declared its intention to affiliate through a telegram.[1]

The first president of FIFA was Robert Guérin. Guérin was replaced in 1906 by Daniel Burley Woolfall from England, by then a member of the association. The first tournament FIFA staged, the association football competition for the 1908 Olympics in London was more successful than its Olympic predecessors, despite the presence of professional footballers, contrary to the founding principles of FIFA.[19][20][21][22]

Membership of FIFA expanded beyond Europe with the application of South Africa in 1909, Argentina in 1912, Canada and Chile in 1913, and the United States in 1914.[23]

The 1912 Spalding Athletic Library “Official Guide” includes information on the 1912 Olympics (scores and stories), AAFA, and FIFA. The 1912 FIFA President was Dan B Woolfall.[24] Daniel Burley Woolfall was president from 1906 to 1918.[25]

During World War I, with many players sent off to war and the possibility of travel for international fixtures severely limited, the organization’s survival was in doubt. Post-war, following the death of Woolfall, the organization was run by Dutchman Carl Hirschmann. It was saved from extinction but at the cost of the withdrawal of the Home Nations (of the United Kingdom), who cited an unwillingness to participate in international competitions with their World War enemies. The Home Nations later resumed their membership. The FIFA collection is held by the National Football Museum at Urbis in Manchester, England.[26] The first World Cup was held in 1930 in Montevideo, Uruguay.[26]



Fédération internationale de football association
Use Sport Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Proportion 3:5
Adopted 2018; 6 years ago (2018)
Design Blue field with a FIFA logo

The FIFA flag is blue, with the organization’s wordmark logo in the middle. The current FIFA flag was first flown during the 2018 FIFA World Cup opening ceremony in Moscow, Russia.[27]


Akin to the UEFA Champions League, FIFA has adopted an anthem composed by the German composer Franz Lambert since the 1994 FIFA World Cup. It has been re-arranged and produced by Rob May and Simon Hill.[28][29] The FIFA Anthem is played at the beginning of official FIFA sanctioned matches and tournaments such as international friendlies, the FIFA World Cup, FIFA Women’s World Cup, FIFA U-20 World Cup, FIFA U-17 World Cup, Football at the Summer Olympics, FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, FIFA Women’s U-17 World Cup, FIFA Futsal World Cup, FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.[30]

Since 2007, FIFA has also required most of its broadcast partners to use short sequences including the anthem at the beginning and end of FIFA event coverage and for break bumpers to help promote FIFA’s sponsors. This emulates practices long used by international football events, such as the UEFA Champions League. Exceptions may be made for specific circumstances; for example, an original piece of African music was used for bumpers during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.[31]

Presidents of FIFA

No Name Country Took office Left office Note
1 Robert Guérin  France 23 May 1904 4 June 1906
2 Daniel Burley Woolfall  United Kingdom 4 June 1906 24 October 1918 Died in office
Cornelis August Wilhelm Hirschman  Netherlands 24 October 1918 1920 Acting
3 Jules Rimet  France 1 March 1921 21 June 1954
4 Rodolphe Seeldrayers  Belgium 21 June 1954 7 October 1955 Died in office
5 Arthur Drewry  United Kingdom 9 June 1956 25 March 1961 Died in office
Ernst Thommen   Switzerland 25 March 1961 28 September 1961 Acting
6 Stanley Rous  United Kingdom 28 September 1961 8 May 1974
7 João Havelange  Brazil 8 May 1974 8 June 1998
8 Sepp Blatter   Switzerland 8 June 1998 8 October 2015 Expelled
Issa Hayatou  Cameroon 8 October 2015 26 February 2016 Acting
9 Gianni Infantino  Italy
26 February 2016 Incumbent


Six confederations and 211 national associations

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Besides its worldwide institutions, there are six confederations recognized by FIFA which oversee the game in the different continents and regions of the world. National associations, and not the continental confederations, are members of FIFA. The continental confederations are provided for in FIFA’s statutes, and membership of a union is a prerequisite to FIFA membership.

In total, FIFA recognizes 211 national associations and their associated men’s national teams as well as 129 women’s national teams; see the list of national football teams and their respective country codes. The number of FIFA member associations is higher than the number of UN member states as FIFA has admitted associations from 23 non-sovereign entities as members in their own right, such as the four Home Nations within the United Kingdom and the two special administrative regions of China: Hong Kong and Macau.

On 28 February 2022, FIFA suspended Russia from all competitions because of their violent and forceful invasion of Ukraine. FIFA often suspends countries because of governance interference, corruption, or financial irregularities. It can also be because of doping or other drugs.[32]

The FIFA Men’s World Rankings are updated monthly and rank each team based on their performance in international competitions, qualifiers, and friendly matches. There is also a world ranking for women’s football, updated four times a year.

Laws and governance

FIFA headquarters in Zürich, Switzerland

FIFA’s headquarters is in Zürich, and it is an association established under the law of Switzerland.

FIFA’s supreme body is the FIFA Congress, an assembly of representatives from each affiliated member association. Each national football association has one vote, regardless of size or footballing strength. The Congress assembles in ordinary sessions once every year, and extraordinary sessions have been held once a year since 1998. Congress makes decisions relating to FIFA’s governing statutes and their method of implementation and application. Only Congress can pass changes to FIFA’s statutes. The congress approves the annual report and decides on the acceptance of new national associations, and holds elections. Congress elects the President of FIFA, its general secretary, and the other members of the FIFA Council in the year following the FIFA World Cup.[33]

FIFA Council – formerly called the FIFA Executive Committee and chaired by the president – is the organization’s main decision-making body in the intervals of Congress. The council comprises 37 people: the president; 8 vice-presidents; and 28 members from the confederations, with at least one of them being a woman. The executive committee is the body that decides which country will host the World Cup.

The president and the general secretary are the main office holders of FIFA and are in charge of its daily administration, carried in by the general secretariat, with its staff of approximately 280 members. Gianni Infantino is the current president, elected on 26 February 2016 at an extraordinary FIFA Congress session after former president Sepp Blatter was suspended pending a corruption investigation.[34][35]

FIFA’s worldwide organizational structure also consists of several other bodies under the authority of the FIFA Council or created by Congress as standing committees. Among those bodies are the FIFA Emergency Committee, the FIFA Ethics Committee, the Finance Committee, the Disciplinary Committee, and the Referees Committee.

The FIFA Emergency Committee deals with all matters requiring immediate settlement in the time frame between the regular meetings of the FIFA Council.[36][37] The Emergency Committee consists of the FIFA president as well as one member from each confederation.[38] Emergency Committee decisions made are immediately put into legal effect, although they need to be ratified at the next Executive Committee meeting.[39]

Administrative cost

FIFA publishes its results according to International Financial Reporting Standards. The total compensation for the management committee in 2011 was 30  million for 35 people. Blatter, the only full-time person on the committee, earned approximately two million Swiss francs, 1.2  million in salary, and the rest in bonuses.[40][41][42] A report in London’s The Sunday Times in June 2014 said the members of the committee had their salaries doubled from $100,000 to $200,000 during the year. The report also said leaked documents had indicated $4.4  million in secret bonuses had been paid to the committee members following the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.[43]


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The laws that govern football known officially as the Laws of the Game, are not solely the responsibility of FIFA; they are maintained by a body called the International Football Association Board (IFAB). FIFA has members on its board (four representatives); the other four are provided by the football associations of the United Kingdom: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, who jointly established IFAB in 1882 and are recognized for the creation and history of the game. Changes to the Laws of the Game must be agreed upon by at least six delegates.

The FIFA Statutes form the overarching document guiding FIFA’s governing system. The governing system is divided into separate bodies with the appropriate powers to create a system of checks and balances. It consists of four general bodies: the Congress, the executive committee, the general Secretariat, and standing and ad hoc committees.[44]

Discipline of national associations

FIFA frequently takes active roles in the running of the sport and developing the game around the world. One of its sanctions is to suspend teams and associated members from international competition when a government interferes in the running of FIFA’s associate member organizations or if the associate is not functioning correctly.

A 2007 FIFA ruling that a player can be registered with a maximum of three clubs and appear in official matches for a maximum of two in a year measured from 1 July to 30 June has led to controversy, especially in those countries whose seasons cross that date barrier, as in the case of two former Ireland internationals. As a direct result of this controversy, FIFA modified this ruling the following year to accommodate transfers between leagues with out-of-phase seasons.

Video replay and goal-line technology

FIFA now permits the use of video evidence during matches, as well as for subsequent sanctions. However, for most of FIFA’s history it stood opposed to its use.[45] The 1970 meeting of the International Football Association Board “agreed to request the television authorities to refrain from any slow-motion play-back which reflected, or might reflect, adversely on any decision of the referee”.[46] As recently as 2008 FIFA president Sepp Blatter said: “Let it be as it is and let’s leave [football] with errors. The television companies will have the right to say [the referee] was right or wrong, but still, the referee makes the decision – a man, not a machine.”[47] This stance was finally overturned on 3 March 2018, when the IFAB wrote video assistant referees (also known as VARs) into the Laws of the Game permanently.[48] Their use remains optional for competitions.

In early July 2012 FIFA sanctioned the use of goal-line technology, subject to rules specified by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), who had officially approved its use by amending the Laws of the Game to permit (but not require) its use.[49][50] This followed a high-profile incident during a second-round game in the 2010 FIFA World Cup between England and Germany, where a shot by Englishman Frank Lampard, which would have levelled the scores at 2–2 in a match that ultimately ended in a 4–1 German victory, crossed the line but was not seen to do so by the match officials, which led FIFA officials to declare that they would re-examine the use of goal-line technology.[51]


On 28 February 2022, due to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine and by a recommendation by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), FIFA suspended the participation of Russia.[52][53] The Russian Football Union unsuccessfully appealed the FIFA ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which upheld the ban.[54] Some observers, while approving of the boycott of Russia, have pointed out that FIFA did not boycott Saddam Hussein’s Iraq as an aggressor during the Iran–Iraq War,[55] Saudi Arabia for its military intervention in Yemen,[56] Qatar for its human rights violations,[57][58] or the United States for the actions of the U.S. military during the Iraq War.[59] However, this full ban was partially lifted in October 2023 when it was decided that their men’s and women’s U-17 teams were allowed to return to international competitions.

FIFA previously banned Indonesia due to government intervention within the team. FIFA requires members to play “with no influence from third parties.”[60]

Recognition and awards

FIFA holds an annual awards ceremony, The Best FIFA Football Awards since 2016, which recognizes both individual and team achievements in international association football. Individually, the top men’s player is awarded The Best FIFA Men’s Player, and the top women’s player is The Best FIFA Women’s Player. Other prominent awards are The Best FIFA Football Coach and FIFA FIFPro World11.

In 2000, FIFA presented two awards, FIFA Club of the Century and FIFA Player of the Century, to decide the greatest football club and player of the 20th century. Real Madrid was the club winner, while Diego Maradona and Pelé were the joint player’s winners.

FIFA variants

  1. Association football Recognized 1904 Men / 1988 Women
  2. Futsal Recognized 1986 Men / 2023 Women[61][62]
  3. Esports Recognized 2004
  4. Beach soccer Recognized 2005 Men / 2019 Women

FIFA competitions

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Current title holders

Competition Current Champions Details Runners-up Next[63]
National teams
FIFA World Cup (qualification) 2022 (qual.) Argentina  Final  France 2026 (qual.)
FIFA Series 2024 Algeria 

Cape Verde 
Central African Republic 



 Sri Lanka
Men’s Olympic Football Tournament
2020 (qual.) Brazil  Final Spain 2024 (qual.)
FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023 (qual.) Uruguay  Final  Italy 2025 (qual.)
FIFA U-17 World Cup 2023 (qual.) Germany  Final  France 2025 (qual.)
FIFA Futsal World Cup 2021 (qual.) Portugal  Final  Argentina 2024 (qual.)
Men’s Youth Olympic Futsal Tournament
2018 Brazil  Final  Russia 2026
FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup
(see BSWW)
2024 (qual.) Brazil  Final  Italy 2025 (qual.)
FIFA Arab Cup
(senior teams of the UAFA (Arab world))
2021 (qual.) Algeria  Final  Tunisia 2025
Women’s national teams
FIFA Women’s World Cup (qualification) 2023 (qual.) Spain  Final  England 2027 (qual.)
Women’s Olympic Football Tournament 2021 (qual.) Canada  Final  Sweden 2024 (qual.)
FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2022 (qual.) Spain  Final  Japan 2024 (qual.)
FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022 (qual.) Spain  Final  Colombia 2024 (qual.)
FIFA Women’s Futsal World Cup 2025
Women’s Youth Olympic Futsal Tournament
2018 Portugal  Final  Japan 2026
Club teams
FIFA Club World Cup 2023 (qual.) Manchester City England Final Brazil Fluminense 2025 (qual.)
FIFA Intercontinental Cup 2024
Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup 2023 Zürich Switzerland Final Brazil Corinthians 2024
Women’s club teams
FIFA Women’s Club World Cup .mw-parser-output div:not(.notheme)>.tmp-color, .mw-parser-output p>.tmp-color, .mw-parser-output table:not(.notheme) .tmp-color{color:inherit!important}@media(prefers-color-scheme:dark){ .mw-parser-output div:not(.notheme)>.tmp-color, .mw-parser-output p>.tmp-color, .mw-parser-output table:not(.notheme) .tmp-color{color:inherit!important}}TBA
Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup 2023 Vancouver Whitecaps Canada Final Switzerland Basel 2024
Amateur teams
FIFA Santosh Trophy 2023–24 Services India Final India Goa 2024–25


Competition Season Winner
(Player/Gamer ID)
Details Runner-up
(Player/Gamer ID)
FIFAe World Cup 2022[64] /Umut Gültekin Germany
Final Argentina Nicolas Villalba/
FIFAe Club World Cup
(part of the FIFAe Club Series)
2022[66] Riders Portugal Final England SAF 2023[67]
FIFAe Nations Series
(part of the FIFAe Nations Cup)
2023[68] Brazil Brazil

(Paulo Henrique Chaves)
(Pedro Henrique Soares)
(Paulo Neto)

Final Netherlands Netherlands

(Levi de Weerd)
(Manuel Bachoore)
(Emre Yilmaz)

FIFAe Continental Cup 2022[69] ProGamer Vietnam Final South Korea Crazy Win 2023[70]

FIFA World Rankings

Sponsors of FIFA

As of April 2023

FIFA Partner


In April 2022 FIFA launched FIFA+,[82] an OTT service providing up to 40,000 live matches per year, including 11,000 women’s matches.[83] It was also confirmed that FIFA would make available archival content, including every FIFA World Cup and FIFA Women’s World Cup match recorded on camera,[84] together with original documentary content.[85] Eleven Sports was later reported to be responsible for populating the FIFA+ platform with live matches.[86]

FIFA+ showed the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup live in selected regions such as Japan, Brazil, Indonesia, and Thailand.[87]

FIFA+ have the rights to competitions in Oceania including the OFC Champions League and the OFC Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament.[88][89][90] They also have rights to the New Zealand domestic competitions and national teams.[91][92]

FIFA Innovation Programme

2021-23 Members:


In May 2006, British investigative reporter Andrew Jennings‘ book Foul! The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote-Rigging, and Ticket Scandals (HarperCollins) caused controversy within the football world by detailing an alleged international cash-for-contracts scandal following the collapse of FIFA’s marketing partner International Sport and Leisure (ISL) and revealed how some football officials had been urged to secretly repay the sweeteners they received. The book also alleged that vote-rigging had occurred in the fight for Sepp Blatter‘s continued control of FIFA as the organization’s president. Shortly after the release of Foul! a BBC Panorama exposé by Jennings and BBC producer Roger Corke, screened on 11 June 2006, reported that Blatter was being investigated by Swiss police over his role in a secret deal to repay more than £1m worth of bribes pocketed by football officials. Lord Triesman, the former chairman of the English Football Association, described FIFA as an organization that “behaves like a mafia family,” highlighting the organization’s “decades-long traditions of bribes, bungs, and corruption.”[96]

All testimonies offered in the Panorama exposé were provided through a disguised voice, appearance, or both, save one: Mel Brennan, a former CONCACAF official, became the first high-level football insider to go public with substantial allegations of corruption, nonfeasance, and malfeasance by CONCACAF and FIFA leadership. Brennan—the highest-level African-American in the history of world football governance—joined Jennings, Trinidadian journalist Lisana Liburd, and many others in exposing allegedly inappropriate allocations of money by CONCACAF and drew connections between ostensible CONCACAF criminality and similar behaviours at FIFA. Since then, and in the light of fresh allegations of corruption by FIFA in late 2010,[97] both Jennings and Brennan remain highly critical of FIFA. Brennan has called directly for an alternative to FIFA to be considered by the stakeholders of the sport worldwide.[98]

In a further Panorama exposé broadcast on 29 November 2010, Jennings alleged that three senior FIFA officials, Nicolas Leoz, Issa Hayatou and Ricardo Teixeira, had been paid huge bribes by ISL between 1989 and 1999, which FIFA had failed to investigate. Jennings claimed they appeared on a list of 175 bribes paid by ISL, totalling about $100  million. A former ISL executive said there were suspicions within the company that they were only awarded the marketing contract for successive World Cups by paying bribes to FIFA officials. The program also alleged that another current official, Jack Warner, has been repeatedly involved in reselling World Cup tickets to touts; Blatter said that FIFA had not investigated the allegation because it had not been told about it via ‘official channels.’

Panorama also alleged that FIFA requires nations bidding to host the World Cup to agree to implement special laws, including a blanket tax exemption for FIFA and its corporate sponsors and limitation of workers rights. Contrary to FIFA’s demands, these conditions were revealed by the Dutch government, resulting in them being told by FIFA that their bid could be adversely affected. Following Jennings’ earlier investigations, he was banned from all FIFA press conferences for reasons he claimed had not been made clear. The accused officials failed to answer questions about his latest allegations verbally or by letter.

Prime Minister David Cameron and Andy Anson, head of England’s World Cup bid, criticized the timing of the broadcast three days before FIFA decided on the host for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, because it might damage England’s bid; the voters included officials accused by the program.[99][100]

In June 2011, it came to light that the International Olympic Committee had started inquiry proceedings against FIFA honorary president João Havelange into claims of bribery. Panorama alleged that Havelange accepted a $1 million ‘bung’ in 1997 from ISL. The IOC stated that it “takes all allegations of corruption very seriously, and we would always ask for any evidence of wrongdoing involving any IOC members to be passed to our ethics commission”.[101]

In a 2014 interview, American sportswriter Dave Zirin said that corruption is endemic to FIFA leadership and that the organization should be abolished for the game’s good. He said that currently, FIFA is in charge of both monitoring corruption in association football matches and marketing and selling the sport, but that two “separate” organizational bodies are needed: an organizational body that monitors corruption and match-fixing and the like and an organization that’s responsible for marketing and sponsorships and selling the sport. Zirin said the idea of having a single organization responsible for both seems highly ineffective and detrimental to the sport.[102]

In May 2015, 14 people were arrested, including nine FIFA officials, after being accused of corruption.[103]

In the 2022 World Cup bid, Qatar was honoured to host the World Cup. Since then it has been discovered that Qatar paid as much as 200 billion dollars to host the World Cup. This information was discovered by the Tass news agency in Russia.[104]

Guilty pleas

Between 2013 and 2015 four individuals, and two sports television rights corporations pleaded guilty to United States financial misconduct charges. The pleas of Chuck Blazer, José Hawilla, Daryan Warner, Darrell Warner, Traffic Group and Traffic Sports USA were unsealed in May 2015.[9] In another 2015 case, Singapore also imposed a 6-year “harshest sentence ever received for match-fixing” on match-fixer Eric Ding who had bribed three Lebanese FIFA football officials with prostitutes as an inducement to fix future matches that they would officiate, as well as perverting the course of justice.[105]

Indictments and arrests

Fourteen FIFA officials and marketing executives were indicted by the United States Department of Justice in May 2015. The officials were arrested in Switzerland and are in the process of extradition to the US. Specific charges (brought under the RICO act) include wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering.[106]

“Swiss authorities say they have also opened a separate criminal investigation into FIFA’s operations pertaining to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids”.[107]

FIFA’s top officials were arrested at a hotel in Switzerland on suspicion of receiving bribes totalling $100m (£65m). The US Department of Justice stated that nine FIFA officials and four executives of sports management companies were arrested and accused of over $150m in bribes.[108] The UK Shadow Home Secretary and Labour Member of Parliament, Andy Burnham, stated in May 2015 that England should boycott the 2018 World Cup against corruption in FIFA and military aggression by Russia.[109]

2018 and 2022 World Cup bids

FIFA’s choice to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 World Cup to Qatar has been widely criticized by media.[110][111][112][113] It has been alleged that some FIFA inside sources insist that the Russian kickbacks of cash and gifts given to FIFA executive members were enough to secure the Russian 2018 bid weeks before the result was announced.[114] Sepp Blatter was widely criticized in the media for giving a warning about the “evils of the media” in a speech to FIFA executive committee members shortly before they voted on the hosting of the 2018 World Cup, a reference to The Sunday Times exposés,[115] and the Panorama investigation.[116]

Two members of FIFA’s executive committee were banned from all football-related activity in November 2010 for allegedly offering to sell their votes to undercover newspaper reporters. In early May 2011, a British parliamentary inquiry into why England failed to secure the 2018 finals was told by a member of parliament, Damian Collins, that there was evidence from The Sunday Times newspaper that Issa Hayatou of Cameroon and Jacques Anouma of Ivory Coast were paid by Qatar. Qatar has categorically denied the allegations, as have Hayatou and Anouma.[117]

FIFA president Blatter said, as of 23 May 2011[update], that the British newspaper The Sunday Times has agreed to bring its whistle-blowing source to meet senior FIFA officials, who will decide whether to order a new investigation into alleged World Cup bidding corruption. “[The Sunday Times] are happy, they agreed that they will bring this whistleblower here to Zürich and then we will have a discussion, an investigation of this”, Blatter said.

Specifically, the whistle-blower claims that FIFA executive committee members Issa Hayatou and Jacques Anouma were paid $1.5 million to vote for Qatar.[118][119] The emirate’s bid beat the United States in a final round of voting last December. Blatter did not rule out reopening the 2022 vote if corruption could be proved, but urged taking the matter “step by step”. The FIFA president said his organization is “anxiously awaiting” more evidence before asking its ethics committee to examine allegations made in Britain’s Parliament in early May 2011.

Hayatou, who is from Cameroon, leads the Confederation of African Football and is a FIFA vice-president. Anouma is president of Ivorian Football Federation. The whistle-blower said Qatar agreed to pay a third African voter, Amos Adamu, for his support. The Nigerian was later suspended from voting after a FIFA ethics court ruled he solicited bribes from undercover Sunday Times reporters posing as lobbyists. Blatter said the newspaper and its whistle-blower would meet with FIFA secretary general, Jérôme Valcke, and legal director, Marco Villiger.

Allegations against FIFA officials have also been made to the UK Parliament by David Triesman, the former head of England’s bid and the English Football Association. Triesman told the lawmakers that four long-standing FIFA executive committee members—Jack Warner, Nicolás Leoz, Ricardo Teixeira and Worawi Makudi—engaged in “improper and unethical” conduct in the 2018 bidding, which was won by Russia. All six FIFA voters have denied wrongdoing.[120]

On 28 September 2015, Sepp Blatter suggested that the 2018 World Cup being awarded to Russia was planned before the voting, and that the 2022 World Cup would have then been awarded to the United States. However, this plan changed after the election ballot, and the 2022 World Cup was awarded to Qatar instead of the U.S.[121][122]

According to leaked documents seen by The Sunday Times, Qatari state-run television channel Al Jazeera secretly offered $400 million to FIFA, for broadcasting rights, just 21 days before FIFA announced that Qatar would hold the 2022 World Cup.[123][124]

On 17 July 2012, in the wake of announced anti-corruption reforms by Sepp Blatter, the president of the FIFA,[125] the organization appointed U.S. lawyer Michael J. Garcia as the chairman of the investigative chamber of FIFA Ethics Committee, while German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert was appointed as the chairman of the Ethics Committee’s adjudication chamber.[126]

In August 2012, Garcia declared his intention to investigate the bidding process and decision to respectively award the right to host the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup to Russia and Qatar by the FIFA Executive Committee.[127] Garcia delivered his subsequent 350-page report in September 2014, and Eckert then announced that it would not be made public for legal reasons.[128]

On 13 November 2014, Eckert released a 42-page summary of his findings after reviewing Garcia’s report. The summary cleared both Russia and Qatar of any wrongdoing during the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups,[129] leaving Russia and Qatar free to stage their respective World Cups.[130]

FIFA welcomed “the fact that a degree of closure has been reached,” while the Associated Press wrote that the Eckert summary “was denounced by critics as a whitewash“.[130] Hours after the Eckert summary was released, Garcia himself criticized it for being “materially incomplete” with “erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions,” while declaring his intention to appeal to FIFA’s Appeal Committee.[129] On 16 December 2014, FIFA’s Appeal Committee dismissed Garcia’s appeal against the Eckert summary as “not admissible.” FIFA also stated that Eckert’s summary was “neither legally binding nor appealable.”[131] A day later, Garcia resigned from his role as FIFA ethics investigator in protest of FIFA’s conduct, citing a “lack of leadership” and lost confidence in the independence of Eckert from FIFA.[132] In June 2015, Swiss authorities claimed the report was of “little value”.[133]

In November 2022, the FIFA officials told players not to get involved in politics but focus on sports when they are in Qatar.[134] A few weeks earlier, the football associations and players of Denmark and Australia criticized Qatar for this.[135][136]

2011 FIFA presidential election

FIFA announced on 25 May 2011 that it had opened the investigation to examine the conduct of four officials—Mohamed Bin Hammam and Jack Warner, along with Caribbean Football Union (CFU) officials Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester—in relation to claims made by executive committee member, Chuck Blazer.[137][138][139] Blazer, who was at the time, the general secretary of the CONCACAF confederation, has alleged that violations were committed under the FIFA code of ethics during a meeting organized by Bin Hammam and Warner on 10 and 11 May—the same time Lord Triesman had accused Warner of demanding money for a World Cup 2018 vote—in relation to the 2011 FIFA presidential election,[140] in which Bin Hammam, who also played a key role in the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup bid, allegedly offered financial incentives for votes cast in his favour during the presidential election.

As a result of the investigation both Bin Hammam and Warner were suspended.[141] Warner reacted to his suspension by questioning Blatter’s conduct and adding that FIFA secretary general, Jérôme Valcke, had told him via e-mail that Qatar had bought the 2022 World Cup.[142][143] Valcke subsequently issued a statement denying he had suggested it was bribery, saying instead that the country had “used its financial muscle to lobby for support”. Qatar officials denied any impropriety.[144] Bin Hammam also responded by writing to FIFA, protesting unfair treatment in suspension by the FIFA Ethics Committee and FIFA administration.[145]

Further evidence emerged of alleged corruption. On 30 May 2011, Fred Lunn, vice-president of the Bahamas Football Association, said that he was given $40,000 in cash[146] as an incitement to vote for FIFA presidential candidate, Mohamed bin Hammam. In addition, on 11 June 2011 Louis Giskus, president of the Surinamese Football Association, alleged that he was given $40,000 in cash for “development projects” as an incentive to vote for Bin Hammam.[147]

Response to allegations

After being re-elected as president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter responded to the allegations by promising to reform FIFA in wake of the bribery scandal, with Danny Jordaan, CEO of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, saying there is great expectation for reform.[148] Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is being tipped for a role on the newly proposed ‘Solutions Committee’, and former Netherlands national football team player Johan Cruyff was also being linked with a role.[143][149]

UEFA secretary-general Gianni Infantino said he hopes for “concrete” measures to be taken by the world game’s authority. Saying that “the UEFA executive committee has taken note of the will of FIFA to take concrete and effective measures for good governance … [and is] following the situation closely.”[150]

IOC president Jacques Rogge commented on the situation by saying that he believes FIFA “can emerge stronger” from its worst-ever crisis, stating that “I will not point a finger and lecture … I am sure FIFA can emerge stronger and from within”.[151]

Several of FIFA’s partners and sponsors have raised concerns about the allegations of corruption, including Coca-Cola, Adidas, Emirates and Visa.[152][153][154] Coca-Cola raised concerns by saying “the current allegations being raised are distressing and bad for the sport”; with Adidas saying “the negative tenor of the public debate around Fifa at the moment is neither good for football nor for Fifa and its partners”; moreover Emirates raised its concerns by saying “we hope that these issues will be resolved as soon as possible”; and Visa adding “the current situation is clearly not good for the game and we ask that Fifa take all necessary steps to resolve the concerns that have been raised.”[152]

Australian Sports Minister Mark Arbib said it was clear FIFA needed to change, saying “there is no doubt there needs to be reform of FIFA. This is something that we’re hearing worldwide”, with Australian Senator Nick Xenophon accusing FIFA of “scamming” the country out of the A$46 million (US$35 million) it spent on the Australia 2022 FIFA World Cup bid, saying that “until the investigation into FIFA has been completed, Australia must hold off spending any more taxpayers’ money on any future World Cup bids.”[155]

Theo Zwanziger, president of the German Football Association, also called on FIFA to re-examine the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.[156]

Transparency International, which had called on FIFA to postpone the election pending a full independent investigation, renewed its call on FIFA to change its governance structure.[157]

Moreover, former Argentine football player Diego Maradona was critical of FIFA in light of the corruption scandal, comparing members of the board to dinosaurs. He said “Fifa is a big museum. They are dinosaurs who do not want to relinquish power. It’s always going to be the same.”[158] In October 2011, Dick Pound criticized the organization, saying, “FIFA has fallen far short of a credible demonstration that it recognizes the many problems it faces, that it has the will to solve them, that it is willing to be transparent about what it is doing and what it finds, and that its conduct in the future will be such that the public can be confident in the governance of the sport.”[159]

2018 revision of code of ethics

In 2018, FIFA revised its code of ethics to remove corruption as one of the enumerated bases of ethical violations.[160] It retained bribery, misappropriation of funds and manipulation of competitions as offences, but added a statute of limitation clause that those offences could not be pursued after a ten-year period.[160]

The revision also made it an offence to make public statements of a defamatory nature against FIFA.[160] Alexandra Wrage, a former member of the FIFA governance committee and an expert in anti-bribery compliance, said that of the revision that “the real value to FIFA is the chilling effect this will have on critics”.[160]

See also

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  1. ^ a b Australia has been a member of the AFC since 2006.
  2. ^ French Guiana, Guyana and Suriname are CONCACAF members although they are in South America. The French Guiana team is a member of CONCACAF but not of FIFA.
  3. ^ Teams representing the nations of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Georgia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Russia (suspended by UEFA in 2022), and Turkey are UEFA members, although the majority or entirety of their territory is outside of continental Europe. Monaco is not a member of UEFA or FIFA.


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Further reading

  • Paul Darby, Africa, Football and Fifa: Politics, Colonialism and Resistance (Sport in the Global Society), Frank Cass Publishers 2002, ISBN 0-7146-8029-X.
  • John Sugden, FIFA and the Contest For World Football, Polity Press 1998, ISBN 0-7456-1661-5.
  • Jim Trecker, Charles Miers, J. Brett Whitesell, ed., Women’s Soccer: The Game and the Fifa World Cup, Universe 2000, Revised Edition, ISBN 0-7893-0527-5.

External links

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