The role, purpose and impact of FIFA

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Last updated June 2016


FIFA was founded in 1904 by representative nations of Western Europe as the main governing body of football. The organisation had subsequently expanded to 24 member nations in 1914, from the original 7. Today FIFA has 209 member associations and to FIFA, its goal enshrined in its statutes, is the constant improvement of football. FIFA employs some 310 people from over 35 nations and is composed of a Congress, Executive Committee, Administrative Body and committees that assist the Executive Committee. The organisation state that they hold philanthropic responsibilities by using football as a tool to encourage social integration amongst communities around the world and that their mission is to ‘develop the game, touch the world and build a better future’. Cornelissen, (2011) further reinforces FIFA’s moral and ethical positivity with the news that on 11 July 2010, the day of the final match of the 2010 World Cup, the South African Government co-hosted with FIFA a high profile summit on global education.

Drawing together various heads of states, representatives from the United Nations and major international sports federations, it was not only the timing of the summit that was symbolically significant, but also what it set out to achieve within the framework of FIFA’s social responsibility programmes.

FIFA predominantly operates by the use of financial profits gained from their international competition the FIFA World Cup. This happens once every 4 years, with 32 nations from various continents around the world competing in a month long competition for global supremacy. This has changed from just 16 representatives in the 1982 World Cup. As a result, the sponsorship opportunities for FIFA have increased dramatically. The expansion of the competition and the inclusion of less developed nations increased the marketability of the organisation, attracting huge global brands and investors (Chadwick and Hamill, 2010). According to Forster, (2010) the organisation has earned more than $4 billion from sponsorship during the period of 2008-2010.

The impact of FIFA on the development of football as a business has been contentious. The FIFA World Cup is arguably the single biggest sporting attraction in the world after the Olympic Games, and has undoubtedly promoted and marketed football to gigantic proportions. However, whilst ensuring philanthropy in the form of charity to associate nations and development of facilities, education, healthcare and sport, there are elements of corruption and disparity within the organisation. FIFA is arguably protected by supreme courts by opposing organisations who wish to challenge FIFA on the issues of governance and corruption.

Further reading/references
  • Chadwick, S. and Hamil, S. (2010) Managing Football: An International Perspective. Butterworth-Heinemann: London.
  • Cornelissen, S. (2011) More Than a Sporting Chance? Appraising the Sport for Development Legacy of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Third World Quarterly, Vol. 32, No. 3, pp. 503-529.
  • Forster, J. (2010) Global Sports Organisations and their Governance. Management Decision, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 72-83.

Author: Zia Ahmed

Graduated with a BA (Hons) in Sport Management from Loughborough University, UK. Ahmed writes regularly on sports science and relevant subjects. His other areas of interest are business development, customer service and social media marketing.