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What FIFA frowns at in Africa holds in Spain as government takes over FA

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Spain press conference to announce their new women's coach and the nations league squad - Ciudad Del Futbol Las Rozas, Las Rozas, Spain - September 15, 2023 The logo of the Royal Spanish Football Federation is pictured on their building before the press conference REUTERS/Isabel Infantes/File Photo

It often happens in Africa -government taking over the running of football, but FIFA reacts promptly with actual ban or threat.

Now the Spanish government on Thursday announced the creation of a special committee to oversee the country’s football federation (RFEF) until the governing body holds new elections.

The decision was taken “in response to the crisis in the organisation and in defence of the general interest of Spain”. the National Sports Council (CSD), which is the government agency responsible for sport, said in a statement.

The move followed months of scandals including a corruption investigation and an unsolicited kiss from former RFEF chief Luis Rubiales to player Jenni Hermoso during the on-pitch awards ceremony after Spain’s women’s World Cup triumph in Sydney.

“The Spanish government has taken this decision in order to correct the serious situation that the RFEF is going through and to allow the organisation to begin a period of regeneration,” the CSD said.

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“This Commission for Supervision, Normalisation and Representation will be headed by independent persons of recognised prestige.”

Spain is trying to move on from the issues within the RFEF as it gears up to co-host the 2030 World Cup.

FIFA and UEFA say they are closely monitoring the situation with great concern. FIFA regulations state that members shall manage their affairs independently and without influence from third parties.

“FIFA and UEFA will seek additional information to assess the extent to which the CSD’s appointment of the so-called ‘Supervision, Normalisation and Representation Commission’ may affect the RFEF’s obligation to manage its affairs independently and without undue government interference,” they said in a joint statement.

Investigations over a multi-million euro corruption probe during Rubiales’ tenure led to other RFEF executives being fired after police raided the organisation’s headquarters in Madrid last month.

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Rocha, who was acting as RFEF stand-in president and hoped to be anointed permanently, was placed under investigation by a judge this month after testifying as a witness in court. He was the sole candidate to succeed Rubiales.

Rocha said on April 16 he had “no knowledge nor, therefore, any responsibility for the facts that are being investigated”.

An apartment belonging to Rubiales was also raided as part of an investigation into the alleged corruption.

Rubiales was banned on Oct. 30 by world soccer’s governing body FIFA for three years from all football-related activities following the kiss, which was done allegedly without consent.

The CSD also postponed until Tuesday a decision on whether to take action in relation to disciplinary proceedings opened against Rocha on which the Administrative Court of Sport (TAD)will rule in the coming weeks.

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The RFEF said in a statement this month that the TAD case was not related to the corruption probe but rather whether the federation overstepped its duties after Rubiales resigned.

Rocha’s office said in a statement this month that the irregularities in TAD’s case would be challenged.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

Governing Bodies

FIFA clocks 120 today

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Robert Guerin, FIFA founding president 120 years ago

BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

There may be no celebration, but the world football governing body is 120 years old today, having been founded on 21 May 1904 in Paris, France. It is the foundation in France that occasioned its French name as Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).

It was founded at the rear of the headquarters of Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques (USFSA) at the Rue Saint Honoré 229 in Paris.

Rue Saint-Honore 229, where FIFA was founded in 1904

Though founded in Paris, the headquarters moved to Zurich, Switzerland in 1932. In Zurich, the headquarters have also changed twice with the current one being a five-story building, two of which are underground.

Bahnhofstrrasse 77 in Zurich which housed FIFA from 1932 to 1954.

The French name and acronym are universally adopted outside French-speaking countries. The founding members were the national associations of Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain (represented by Real Madrid), Sweden and Switzerland.

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FIFA’s Home from 1954 to 1977: “Villa Derwad” at Hitzigweg 11, Zurich.

On the same day, the  German FA (DFB) reportedly  declared its intention to affiliate through a telegram. The British, despite their claims to be the originators of football, were not founding members of FIFA and only joined.

From 1977 to 1979, The fourth building to house FIFA: Aurorastrasse 60 in Zurich

England joined on 14 April 1905, Scotland and Wales  in 1910 while the fourth British association, Norther Ireland joined in 1911.

FIFA House inaugurated on 21 May 1979

 The founding president of FIFA was Robert Guerin of France. The first FIFA Congress was helld two days later on 23 May 1904 where the president was elected.

 FIFA Headquarters since 29 May 2007

The founders at the time, including Victor E. Schneider of Switzerland and Carl Anton Wilhelm Hirschmann of the Netherlands – both vice presidents,  as well as first Secretary, Louis Muhlinghaus of Belgium, faced difficulties as FIFA only existed on paper.  

FIFA foundation documents

By the second FIFA Congress in Paris from 10 to 12 June 1905, other national associations of Germany, Austria, Italy and Hungary joined.

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 In the following months, the founding president, Guerin increasingly withdrew from sports and handed over to the vice presidents. By 1906, the English man, Daniel Burley Woolfall was elected as the FIFA President.

 At the time up till 1909, , FIFA only consisted of European countries. The first outside Europe countries joined in the following order: South Africa in 1909/10, Argentina and Chile in 1912 and USA in 1913.

 Nigeria provisionally joined in 1959 and got confirmed at the Rome Congress of 22 August 1960 as joint 87th member along with Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia, Kenya, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Malta and Puerto Rico.

  Despite existing since 1904, FIFA was unable to organise a tournament of its own until the first World Cup in 1930. The outbreak of World War I in 1914 was a major blow.

FIFA was in comatose. Its president, Daniel Burley Woolfall died in 1918.

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 While the war was on and in the absence of a president, secretary, Carl Anton Wilhelm Hirschmann kept FIFA alive from his offices in Amsterdam.

As one of the founders himself, Hirschmann took contacts of all the members at the end of the war and was aided by Jules Rimet, the president of the French FA. Following the war, the four British associations left FIFA.

On 1 March 1921, Rimet became the third FIFA president.FIFA came back to life.  He initiated the first World Championship in 1930. The membership grew steadily from 20.

In the 33 years of Rimet’s presidency, there was an upswing in FIFA membership and and activities.

 On passing on the reins in 1954 at the beginning of the fifth World Cup in Switzerland, FIFA had 85 members. At the moment, FIFA has 211 member countries.

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There have been nine substantive presidents in 120 years while three others – Carl Anton Wilhelm Hirschman of Netherlands (1918-1920), Ernst B. Thommen of Switzerland (1961) and Issa Hayatou of Cameroon (2015-2016)  were in acting capacities.

  Brazil’s Joao Havelange became the first non-European president in 1974.  The current president is Gianni Infantino, an Italian-Swiss.

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Governing Bodies

FIFA gets new Secretary General

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Swedish official Mattias Grafström has been appointed as FIFA's secretary general ad interim with immediate effect ©Getty Images

FIFA has appointed a new Secretary General. He is Mattias Grafström. His appointment was sequel to his nomination on an ad interim basis in October 2023. The Sweden/Netherlands national now takes over from Fatma Samoura who stepped down last year.

“I am humbled and deeply honoured to have been appointed FIFA Secretary General and I would like to thank the FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, the Confederation Presidents, the Vice-Presidents and the members of FIFA Council for having trusted me to serve football in such an important position,” said Secretary General Mattias Grafström.

“Football is my passion since I was born. I started playing it as a child and worked in football all my life at all different levels. There are therefore no words to express my feelings as I accept with pride and with a great sense of responsibility, the biggest challenge of my professional life. Together with the FIFA team, I will of course dedicate myself more than ever to the service of our beautiful game of football, FIFA and its 211 Member Associations.”

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Governing Bodies

FIFA set to introduce Women’s Club World Cup

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A new women’ football tournament is in the offing as FIFA has muted the idea of a 16-team FIFA Women’s World Cup. The first edition is projected to hold in January-February 2026. This is one of the landmark decision of the FIFA Council while approving the Women’s International Match Calendar 2026-2029. The meeting of the FIFA Council is part of the 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok, Thailand.

The approved FIFA Calendar for women’s football runs thus:

FIFA Futsal Women’s World Cup 2025™: The first edition of the event will take place in the Philippines.

FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup™ Morocco 2025-2029: The slot allocation will be as follows: AFC: 4; CAF: 5; Concacaf: 4; CONMEBOL: 4; OFC: 2; UEFA: 5.

FIFA U-17 World Cup™ Qatar 2025-2029: The slot allocation was confirmed as follows: AFC: 9; CAF: 10; Concacaf: 8; CONMEBOL: 7; OFC: 3; UEFA 11.

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FIFA Arab Cup: At the request of the Qatar Football Association, Qatar will host the tournament in 2025, 2029 and 2033, which will follow the principle of an invitational competition not included in the International Match Calendar.

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