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22 May 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY FIFA

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (French for International Federation of Association Football), commonly known by its acronym, FIFA, is the international governing body of association football. Its headquarters are in Zürich, Switzerland, and its current president is Sepp Blatter. FIFA is responsible for the organization and governance of football's major international tournaments, most notably the FIFA World Cup, held since 1930. FIFA has 208 member associations, which is 16 more than the United Nations and three more than the International Olympic Committee, though five fewer than the International Association of Athletics Federations. The need for a single body to oversee the worldwide game became apparent at the beginning of the 20th century with the increasing popularity of international fixtures. FIFA was founded in Paris on 21 May 1904—the French name and acronym remain, even outside French-speaking countries. Its first president was Robert Guérin. FIFA presided over its first international competition in 1906, but this met with little approval or success. This, in combination with economic factors, led to the swift replacement of Guérin with Daniel Burley Woolfall from England, by now a member association. The next tournament staged, the football competition for the 1908 Olympics in London was more successful, despite the presence of professional footballers, contrary to the founding principles of FIFA. Membership of FIFA expanded beyond Europe with the application of South Africa in 1909, Argentina and Chile in 1912, and Canada and the United States in 1913. FIFA, however, floundered during World War I, with many players sent off to war and the possibility of travel for international fixtures severely limited. Post-war, following the death of Woolfall, the organisation 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 recent World War enemies. The Home Nations later resumed their membership. The FIFA collection is held by the National Football Museum in England. FIFA is an association established under the Laws of Switzerland. Its headquarters are in Zürich. FIFA's supreme body is the FIFA Congress, an assembly made up of representatives from each affiliated member association. The Congress assembles in ordinary session once every year and, additionally, extraordinary sessions have been held once a year since 1998. Only the Congress can pass changes to FIFA's statutes. Congress elects the President of FIFA, its General Secretary and the other members of FIFA's Executive Committee. The President and General Secretary are the main officeholders of FIFA, and are in charge of its daily administration, carried out by the General Secretariat, with its staff of approximately 280 members. FIFA's Executive Committee, chaired by the President, is the main decision-making body of the organization in the intervals of Congress. FIFA's worldwide organisational structure also consists of several other bodies, under authority of the Executive Committee or created by Congress as standing committees. Among those bodies are the Finance Committee, the Disciplinary Committee, the Referees Committee, etc. Aside from its worldwide institutions (presidency, Executive Committee, Congress, etc.) there are confederations recognised 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. National associations must claim membership to both FIFA and the confederation in which their nation is geographically resident for their teams to qualify for entry to FIFA's competitions (with a few geographic exceptions listed below): AFC—Asian Football Confederation in Asia and Australia CAF—Confédération Africaine de Football in Africa CONCACAF—Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football in North America and Central America CONMEBOL—Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol in South America OFC—Oceania Football Confederation in Oceania UEFA—Union of European Football Associations in Europe. Nations straddling the traditional boundary between Europe and Asia have generally had their choice of confederation. As a result, a number of transcontinental nations including Russia, Turkey, Cyprus, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia have chosen to become part of UEFA despite the bulk of their land area being in Asia. Israel, although lying entirely within Asia, joined UEFA in 1994, after decades of its football teams being boycotted by many Arab and predominantly Muslim AFC countries. Kazakhstan moved from the AFC to UEFA in 2002. Australia was the latest to move from the OFC to AFC in January 2006. Guyana and Suriname have always been CONCACAF members despite being South American countries. No team from the OFC is offered automatic qualification to the World Cup. In recent World Cup qualifying cycles, the winner of their section had to play a play-off against a CONMEBOL side, a hurdle at which Australia have traditionally fallen. In an effort to improve their national and domestic teams Australia moved to the AFC in 2006. This allows Australia to play in Asian tournaments of a much higher standard (as well as being more numerous) such as the AFC Asian Cup and the Asian Champions League. Australia successfully qualified for the 2006 FIFA World Cup by winning just such a playoff in a penalty shootout against Uruguay, just a few months after the clearance to move was granted. Initially, the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification cycle was planned to provide the winner of OFC qualifying with a place in the final AFC qualification group, but this was scrapped in favour of a playoff between the OFC winner and an AFC team for a World Cup place. In total, FIFA recognises 208 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. Curiously, FIFA has more member states than the United Nations, as FIFA recognises several non-sovereign entities as distinct nations, most notably the four Home Nations within the United Kingdom. The FIFA 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. FIFA PRESIDENTS Robert Guerin, France, 1904-1906 Daniel Burley Woolfall, England, 1906-1918 Jules Rimet, France, 1921-1954 Rodolphe Seeldrayers, Belgium, 1954-1955 Arthurd Drewry, England, 1955-1961 Stanley Rous, England, 1961-1974 Joao Havelange, Brazil, 1974-1998 Joseph S. Blatter, Switzerland, since 1998

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