What is FIFA and what does it do?
Founded in 1904 to provide unity between national soccer associations, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has 209 members, rivaling that of the United Nations, and is arguably the most prestigious sports organization in the world.
FIFA was established on May 21, 1904 by seven national associations (Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland) to “promote association football (as opposed to rugby union or American football), to encourage friendly relations between the National Associations, Confederations and their officials and players, promoting the organization of football matches at all levels, and control all types of association football by taking the measures deemed necessary or convenient.”
The birth of FIFA was the result of the growing number of international matches. Soccer leaders in Europe felt that such expanded competition required a governing body, and under the leadership of Robert Guerin, a French journalist, the seven founding members met in Paris to shape the future of the sport. Guerin, the body’s first president, was in charge from 1904 to 1906. Seven other men also served as FIFA presidents, including Jules Rimet for 33 years, from 1921 to 1954.
As soccer’s highest administrative authority, FIFA governs all facets of the game: it regulates the rules of the game, oversees player transfers internationally, organizes international competitions such as the FIFA World Cup, sets rules for arbitration, technical preparation and sports medicine, and fosters the development of soccer around the world.