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International Organisations: FIFA, the Journey into Global Football


The Qatar World Cup 2022 has taken over the monitors of thousands of people around the world, grasping the attention of football fanatics but not only. A trending name appearing alongside the World Cup is undoubtedly FIFA, also known as Fédération International de Football Association. As a well-established and largely recognised governing body of the football industry, FIFA is a familiar name for many individuals of different backgrounds. The present article explores FIFA as an organisation with extensive history, an ultimate mission, and complex composition.


Figure 1: The FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.

Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, FIFA is the world’s largest governing association in the sporting industry (What Is FIFA?, 2022). It is accountable for the management of all major international football tournaments — also known as ”soccer tournaments” in the United States. The most notable and popular tournament is certainly the FIFA World Cup, a trademarked name in the industry (What Is FIFA?, 2022). The World Cup is held every four years and aims to ultimately declare the best team amongst several participants of the men’s football team each representing their respective qualified nations. There are 200 member associations that partake in FIFA, making it the world’s second-largest international association, exceeded only by the United Nations (What Is FIFA?, 2022).


Composition

FIFA exists to govern football and to develop the game on a global level while modernising football and making it accessible and inclusive everywhere. It supports and is equivocally supported by over 200 associations financially and logistically through various programs (Committees, n.d.).


As representatives of FIFA in their countries, all the above-mentioned associations have obligations to respect the statutes, aims, and ideals of football’s governing body and promote and manage sport accordingly. The FIFA statutes provide a separation between strategic oversight and executive, operational and administrative functions.


The Congress is FIFA’s supreme and legislative body (Committees, n.d.). The Council is the strategic body, and the General Secretariat is the executive, operational and administrative body. The standing committees advise and assist the Council and the General Secretariat (Committees, n.d.).


Figure 2: The last gathering of the FIFA Committee and its members.

FIFA’s seven standing committees report to the FIFA Council, advising and assisting in their respective fields (Committees, n.d.). The composition, structure, qualification, and number of members, as well as the specific duties and powers of the individual committees, are stipulated in the FIFA Governance Regulations (Committees, n.d.).


The Appeal, Disciplinary and Ethics Committees are FIFA’s judicial bodies and are three of FIFA’s four independent committees, the last being the FIFA Governance, Audit, and Compliance Committee (Committees, n.d.). All of four bodies are composed of carefully selected members, envisioned to fulfil the respective duties under the required guidelines of each Committee, through four-year terms, after being selected by the Congress (Committees, n.d.).


Figure 3: The current president of FIFA, Gianni Infantino.

At the head of FIFA lies the president. Since its inception FIFA has had eight presidents the current being Gianni Infantino, who has served in his position since 2016 (President, n.d.). As the centre of such a large-scale organisation, Gianni Infantino has shared his vision for the organisation to establish wide-ranging reforms, expand global participation in competitions, and boost investment in football development (President, n.d.).


First World Cup

An organisation of this scale and size was brought about by the need for a single governor to oversee European sporting events in 1900 (1930 FIFA World Cup Uruguay TM, n.d.). FIFA was established on 21st May 1904, in the capital city of France, on Rue Saint Honoré of Paris (U.S. Soccer Federation, n.d.-c). The original members that were granted membership were seven European countries: Belgium, France, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland (1930 FIFA World Cup Uruguay TM, n.d.). The first non-European country to join was South Africa in 1909, followed by Argentina, the United States of America, and China in the years to come marking the expenditure of FIFA an international organisation extending inter-continentally. Following up on its continuous growth and expenditure the success and popularity of the organisation kept rising thus leading to its ultimate aspiration of hosting a world championship. In 1930, in Uruguay, the first ever FIFA World Cup was held (1930 FIFA World Cup Uruguay TM, n.d.). Estado Centenario was built in the capital city Montevideo, to host the 13 participating national teams that accepted the invitation to play in the tournament (1930 FIFA World Cup Uruguay TM, n.d.).


Figure 4: The winners of the first FIFA World Cup, held and won by Uruguay.

The first World Cup is the only one in which teams participated without qualifying first. Seeing as the tournament was held entirely in South America, not all the invitees from Europe were able to make it due to the challenging travelling circumstances at the time. The first-ever goal in the history of the World Cup was scored by Lucien Laurent of France, while Jimmy Douglas the goalkeeper of the United States at the time, posted the first clean sheet — also referred to as a ”shutout”, which means that the opposing team was unable to score any goals at all (1930 FIFA World Cup Uruguay TM, n.d.). In the final match, Uruguay faced Argentina defeating the latter, thus becoming the first winner of the FIFA World Cup.


1934 World Cup

The regulations foresaw that the next tournament is held four years later. In 1934, Italy hosted the World Cup, and developed matches in various Italian cities such as Milan, Rome, Florence, Naples, Bologna, etc. (1934 FIFA World Cup Italy TM, n.d.). World Cup 1934 was the first ever to require qualifications to enter, the 36 applicant nations had to be narrowed down to 16 to commence the tournament (1934 FIFA World Cup Italy TM, n.d.) The reigning champion, Uruguay, was unable to participate due to the difficulty posed by travelling to Italy, thus making it the first and last, to this day where the reigning champions did not partake. Many analysts of the sporting industry also view Uruguay’s refusal to participate as a retaliation to Italy’s refusal to participate 4 years ago, thus highlighting the political aspect connected to the FIFA World Cups. The final match between Italy and Czechoslovakia marked Italy as the winner of the second World Cup (1934 FIFA World Cup Italy TM, n.d.).


Figure 5: An illustration of the newspaper announcements for the FIFA World Cup 1934 in Italy.

2018 World Cup

Russia hosted the 2018 FIFA World Cup after being given the hosting rights in 2010 by the FIFA Committee. A total of 32 teams participated in the tournament phase, of which 31 were selected in qualifying tournaments. The host nation was automatically qualified. For the first time since 1938, Germany, which was the defending champion at the time, lost in the group stage (2018 FIFA World Cup Russia TM, n.d.). The tournament’s host lost in the quarterfinals. At the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, France faced Croatia in the championship’s final game. France prevailed 4-2, winning their second World Cup (2018 FIFA World Cup Russia TM, n.d.). World Cup 2018 was the costliest ever with a projected cost of around $14.2 billion until Qatar exceeded it in 2022 (2018 FIFA World Cup Russia TM, n.d.).


Figure 6: The official, special edition, Adidas football for Russia World Cup 2018.

2022 World Cup

The 22nd FIFA World Cup is currently taking place in Qatar from 20 November to 18 December 2022 (Home | Qatar 2022TM, n.d.). After the 2022 sporting event in South Korea and Japan, this World Cup will be the second-largest sports tournament to be held entirely in Asia and the first World Cup to be contested in the Arab and Muslim world respectively. After defeating Croatia 4-2 in the 2018 championship game, France is the current champion. Qatar World Cup 2022 is the costliest ever hosted, amounting to an estimated but unconfirmed $220 billion (Home | Qatar 2022TM, n.d.).


With 48 teams expected to compete in the 2026 tournament, this tournament is expected to be the last to include 32 teams (Home | Qatar 2022TM, n.d.). World Cup 2022 is purposely held in November and December to avoid the extremely hot climate in Qatar. With 64 matches to be played in eight locations across five cities, it will be contested over a shorter period than usual, amounting to 29 days (Home | Qatar 2022TM, n.d.).


Figure 7: The emblem of Qatar World Cup 2022.

Along with 31 other teams who were chosen in qualification rounds, the Qatar national football team attended their first World Cup automatically due to the host participation rights awarded to them in 2010 by the FIFA Committee (Home | Qatar 2022TM, n.d.). Qatar was the second host (after South Africa in 2010) to lose all three of their group games (Home | Qatar 2022TM, n.d.). The final game is previewed to be held on December 18th, 2022, at Lusail Stadium coinciding with Qatar’s National Day (Home | Qatar 2022TM, n.d.). A lot of controversy around the selection of the host has erupted in the media, accusing the organisation of corruption and bribery for discarding Qatar’s less-than-stellar records of human rights activism. Gianni Infantino, the current FIFA president, has turned down allegations in a conference held on 20th November 2022 by reinstating that Qatar was chosen as a host long before any controversy or allegations lacking base could affect FIFA’s decision.


Partners

The FIFA World Cup™ serves as one of the most effective international marketing platforms, reaching millions of people in over 200 countries throughout the world simultaneously (Partners, n.d.). For this reason, to be able to stage such an of such a scale, the support of Commercial Affiliates, who provide vital services and product support for the entirety of the operations, is crucial (Partners, n.d.). The supporters of FIFAs sporting events consist of both partners and sponsors. They are massively exposed to the audience online on official websites and social media pages and physically in the stadium. Some of the most extensive partnerships in the history of FIFA are those with Adidas, Coca-Cola, VISA, Wanda Group, Hyundai, and KIA (Partners, n.d.).


Figure 8: The current partners and sponsors of the FIFA World Cup.

Adidas is one of the most recognised brands in the sporting industry seeing as their primary market is athletic gear, thus from their partnership with FIFA they remain the focus of their audience by providing the special edition of the ball played with at every World Cup, as well as athletic apparel for the football players. Coca-Cola is one of the world’s most popular drinks, as well as FIFAs longest-standing partner. Hyundai and KIAs key marketing strategy lies in compelling emotional opportunities built through events such as tournaments and championships that massively draw support, attention, and emotion from global viewers. VISA is a renowned American multinational finance corporation and close FIFA partner in over 40 sporting events present to both facilitate financial transactions and gain marketability (Partners, n.d.). Wanda Group is the world’s largest real estate, five-star hotel owner and operator and a key FIFA partner in providing accommodation and support to all participants. In 2022, new and local sponsors have joined the team of supporters behind the 2022 Qatar World Cup such as Qatar Airways, and Qatar Energy (Partners, n.d.).


Figure 9: The current logo of FIFA.

Conclusion

FIFA is an international organisation focused on governing football and spreading its inclusivity and accessibility across all countries and nations of the world. Established 118 years ago, FIFA has expanded into the worlds second-largest international body in terms of membership in associations. Having hosted 21 World Cups, with the 22nd currently being held in Qatar, this football association is one of many successes with a complex and intricate structure laying in the heart of Zurich that ensures the continuity and expenditure of global football.


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