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POLSC 183

DESLATE, Ma. Jiandra Bianca F. 2007-49066

Organization: Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)

Last July 11, 2010, millions of fans from all over the world watched as Spanish football
player Andres Iniesta scored the first goal of the game on the 116th minute, defeating Netherlands
1-0, and giving Spain its first ever World Cup title. Fans decked in red, both in the Johannesburg
stadium and in front of their wide-screen television sets at home, went wild with euphoria for
their team, and the 19th FIFA World Cup Championship came to an end.
The cult following of such World Cup matches attests to football’s status as the most
celebrated sport in the world. Its global entity is manifested in the numerous international
organizations that have burgeoned to manage the game, the widest in scope being the Fédération
Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).
History and Membership
FIFA traces its beginnings to the first international soccer match held in Paris, between
players from France and Belgium. It was decided thereafter that an international soccer
organization was needed to coordinate the game between countries. Hence, on May 21, 1904,
representatives from FIFA’s seven founding countries, France, Belgium, Denmark, the
Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland signed the foundation act, bringing Fédération
Internationale de Football Association or FIFA to existence.
However, FIFA faced many obstacles from thereon. Its first challenge was to recruit
England, the country where soccer’s official rules were founded. England’s Football Association
(FA) initially refused FIFA’s invitation, which it found unnecessary since the sport was already
well-established in their territory. Fortunately, a year later in 1905, England agreed to join.
Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland soon followed suit. Later on, FIFA’s membership base
expanded to non-European countries, such as South Africa (which joined in 1909), Argentina
and Chile (1912), and Canada and the USA (1913).
World War One was another obstacle to FIFA’s development. It could organize only a
few international matches, due to border-crossing problems and the limited number of neutral
territories where games could be held. The annual FIFA Congress, a gathering of all FIFA
member associations, was also suspended for seven years from 1914. Worst of all, several
countries withdrew from the organization, unwilling to associate with enemy states. One such
example is England, which nursed a deep-seated animosity towards Germany.
Nonetheless, in 1920, the FIFA Congress was revived in Antwerp, where a new
administrative Board of FIFA was elected. The new President, Jules Rimet (from the French
Football Association), successfully guided FIFA for 33 years even through the Second World
War.
It was under Jules Rimet’s term that the prestigious FIFA World Cup was established in
1928. Previously, soccer was an Olympic sport for amateur players. After the 1928 Olympics,
however, the sport was dropped from the Olympics because of a dispute between FIFA and the
IOC (International Olympic Committee) over the status of amateur players (the former had
wanted to field professionals, but the latter was reluctant to the idea). Also, the next Olympics
host, the United States, did not have a large following for the sport. Hence, the first FIFA World
Cup was set up in 1930, hosted by Uruguay. The FIFA World Cup is now held every four years.
In spite of all its challenges, FIFA has emerged to be one of the strongest and most
reputable international organizations. To date, it has more member states than the United
Nations, with 208 countries or “member associations”, including England, which returned after
World War 2.
These member associations belong to respective geographical confederations, of which
there are six: the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Confederation Africaine de Football
(CAF), Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), Oceania Football Confederation
(OFC), Confederation of North, Central American and Carribean Association Football
(CONCACAF), and the Confederacion Sudamericana de Futbol (CONMEBOL). These six
confederations are under FIFA’s authority and help implement FIFA rules in their regional
games, which usually serve as run-ups to the FIFA World Cup.
Structure
FIFA’s organizational structure is divided into three main bodies namely, the FIFA
Congress, the Executive Committee, and the General Secretariat.
The FIFA Congress is FIFA’s supreme legislative body, made up of representatives from
each of the member associations. It meets annually in what is called the “Ordinary Congress.”
However, an “Extraordinary Congress” can be called by the Executive Committee should
immediate concerns arise. Its tasks include passing changes to FIFA Statutes (FIFA’s
constitution), electing the Executive Committee, approving propositions from the Executive
Committee, and deciding on the acceptance of new national associations (countries). Each
member association in the Congress gets one vote.
FIFA’s Executive Committee is composed of the President, 8 Vice Presidents, and 15
members. All are elected by the FIFA Congress, with each confederation entitled to elect a
certain number of Vice Presidents and members as their representatives. The mandate of all
those in the Executive Committee lasts 4 years. Their duties include: determining the logistical
details of tournaments (dates, locations, tournament formats, number of teams per
Confederation), electing and dismissing the Secretary General on the proposal of the FIFA
president, appointing heads of Standing Committees and Judicial Bodies, and appointing
delegates to the International Football Association Board (IFAB), which is the body that
determines the Laws of the Game (codified rules of soccer).
The Executive Committee is assisted by more than 25 Standing Committees and two
judicial bodies. Some committees are the Legal Committee, the Finance Committee, and the
Media Committee. The two said Judicial Bodies are the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and the
FIFA Appeal Committee.
Lastly, the General Secretariat, headed by the Secretary General, is in charge of the
administration of FIFA’s daily activities. It currently has 310 staff members.
Objectives
“For the Game, For the World,” is FIFA’s mission statement, which expresses FIFA’s
goal to use football as a means to hope and integration. In order to realize this goal, FIFA has set
specific objectives, institutionalized in the FIFA Statutes (FIFA’s constitution). Such objectives
are: (1) to improve the game of football and to promote it globally, (2) to organize its own
international competitions, (3) to draw up regulations and provisions and ensure their
enforcement, (4) to control every type of association football (football games organized by FIFA
or its confederations), (5) to safeguard the integrity of matches and competitions and prevent
abuse.
FIFA’s activities are geared towards these objectives. The organization helps facilitate
football education in member-states, by funding youth and development programs and even
national football academies. Recently, it launched a football academy in Jamaica.
It also organizes a number of football tournaments in addition to the famous FIFA World
Cup. Some of these other tournaments are the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the FIFA Futsal
World Cup (for indoor football), and even a FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup,
FIFA from a Liberal Perspective
Liberals are very optimistic about international organizations. They argue that IO’s “can
play a positive, constructive role in promoting international stability and global welfare,” (Pease,
2003). Truly, FIFA is one international organization that proves the liberal argument right. It
lives out the assumptions and the supposed role of IO’s put forward by Liberalism.
Assumptions
First and foremost, Liberalism assumes that both state and non-state actors are important.
International activities are not solely determined by governments, individuals and the
organizations they belong to can equally influence international affairs too. FIFA, an
international football association, is one such non-state actor, where football players and the
national teams they play for are the ones that determine the game, not their governments. In fact,
FIFA sanctions against government interference in the running of a country’s football
association, suspending such an association from international competitions.
Another liberal assumption is that “a variety of issues can dominate the international
agenda,” (Pease, 2003). Security and military issues do not always take precedence over
everything else. Economic, social, environmental, and even sports issues can be just as
important, if not more, to the international community. The current 208 member associations of
FIFA, the ardent following of the FIFA World Cup matches, the hooliganism that fans resort to
at the height of a game, attest to how important football is to many people all over the world, to
the extent that football matches were still held even during the two world wars.
Lastly, Liberalism assumes international relations to be both conflict and cooperation.
Human beings may be self-interested, but they can be incentivized to cooperate to realize their
interests. The competitions that FIFA organizes exhibit this mixture of conflict and cooperation.
National football teams may play intensely against one another for the trophy, but they all work
with one another to make the game possible. Member associations take turns hosting
tournaments such as the FIFA World Cup, and their respective leaders cooperate with each other
in FIFA’s administrative bodies such as the Executive Committee.
Roles
FIFA fulfills most of the roles that Liberalism attributes to international organizations.
One such role that is salient in FIFA operations is that of ‘IO’s developing shared norms.’
According to liberals, these norms are democratic in nature, characterized by compromise,
reciprocity, multilateralism, and the rule of law.
All FIFA members abide by the rule of law, specifically the Laws of the Game and the
FIFA Statutes, which have codified rules for competitions, transfers, doping issues, and other
concerns. The FIFA Statutes in particular were written based on core democratic values such as
authenticity, unity, performance, and integrity.
These laws are modified multilaterally, in democratic arenas such as the FIFA Congress
(where each member association gets one vote regardless of size or football prominence) and the
International Football Association Board (which has representatives from key football regions
including FIFA members).
Another liberal role that FIFA fulfills is that of promoting economic prosperity and
global welfare. FIFA uses football to positively contribute to the lives of those less fortunate.
The 20 Centres for 2010, an official campaign of the FIFA 2010 World Cup, aims to put up 20
Football for Hope Centres in marginalized African communities, giving them access to health,
educational, and social services. Each centre will include a mini-pitch, classrooms, and
healthcare facilities. Last September 25, the third Football for Hope Centre was opened in
Namibia.
Lastly, FIFA enables Multinational Companies (MNC’s) to play an integrative role by
forming common global markets. FIFA’s international football tournaments, particularly the
FIFA World Cup, give sporting goods manufacturers an instant global customer base, as fans and
amateur soccer players join in the hype of such competitions. MNCs, on the other hand, help
FIFA out by sponsoring their tournaments. Official partners of the 2010 FIFA World Cup
include Adidas, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Sony, who of course, reap enormous advertising
from such events.
Truly, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has come a long way
from its simple beginnings in 1904, and continues to play an important role not only in
international affairs, but more poignantly, in the hearts of every football player and fan in the
world.To many, football is more than just a game, football is life.
SOURCES:
FIFA. 1994-2010. 1 October 2010. < http://www.fifa.com/aboutfifa/federation>

“FIFA Statutes.” FIFA. May 2008. 1 October 2010.


<http://www.fifa.com/mm/document/affederation/administration/01/09/75/14/fifa_statutes_
072008_en.pdf>

History of Soccer. 2009. 1 October 2010. <http://www.history-of-soccer.org/fifa-history.html>


Pease, Kate S. International Organizations: Perspectives on Governance in the 21st Century,
2nd edition, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2003.