Tuesday 19 March 2024, 05:30

FIFA Member Associations in focus (February/March 2024)

  • Football for Schools continues large-scale roll-out

  • World Cup planning continues with inspection visits

  • A look at FIFA’s latest global investment projects

FIFA provides wide-ranging support for all 211 member associations delivered through an extensive suite of programmes, including financial and logistical support. We look at some of the exceptional work that FIFA’s member associations have done over recent weeks to help grow and strengthen the game, making football truly global.

Beach Soccer World Cup fever hits Dubai

The month commenced with Brazil flying high with a sixth star added to their proud history after winning the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup™. UAE 2024 was notable for the increased depth for the sand-based game and also the programmes put in place by the host association. IR Iran notably picked up a bronze medal in their home continent, hosts United Arab Emirates reached the knockout stage for the first time, while an impressive 70,000 spectators attended the 11-day jamboree. Off the pitch, FIFA and the Beach Soccer Worldwide Foundation hosted two groups of people living with disabilities for a fun-filled two days as part of the world governing body’s FIFA’s Be Active campaign.

Protection at the fore

History was also made for players in Dubai with the tournament benefitted from a comprehensive suite of safe sporting environment initiatives – a first for a FIFA senior men’s tournament.

The FIFA Head of Safeguarding visited Costa Rica to highlight the key aspects of the Safeguarding and Child Protection. Belgium hosted a conference primarily focussed on online hate speech and child safeguarding with similar events held in Botswana and Sri Lanka.

Road to 2027 FIFA Women’s World Cup commences

Atlanta was the first stop as FIFA staff commenced a site inspection tour as part of the 2027 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ joint bid from Mexico and the United States. Tours have also taken place in Brazil, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.

While the next tournament slowly hones into view, the benefits of Australia & New Zealand 2023 continue to resonate. On the back of a massive growth in female players, Australia announced their new Talent Development Scheme in the week marking six months since the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final. Aided by FIFA staff, Australia unveiled a bespoke programme that is in keeping with FIFA’s desire for a long-term focus on growing global talent development.

Women’s football impetus

The growth of women’s football continues unabated with a notable landmark moment in Saudi Arabia as the U-20 national team made its debut with a win. Emboldened by their FIFA Women’s World Cup debut last year, Panama welcomed a FIFA delegation for a training course focussed on women’s football administration.

Centenary World Cup preparations underway

The historic 2030 FIFA World Cup™ is a step closer as a delegation from the world governing body made an inspection visit to the three South American nations that will each host a match at the tournament: Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Football for Schools builds momentum

Developing the footballers of tomorrow was the focus in Fiji as the Melanesian nation accomplished an impressive tally of 50 schools now engaged in FIFA’s Football for Schools (F4S) programme. Meanwhile in India, a massive F4S ball distribution target has been set following an agreement involving the world governing body, the All Indian Football Federation (AIFF) and the Indian government. Youth players were also the focus in Kuwait as a FIFA delegation visited the Gulf nation to help boost the F4S engagement. There were also further roll-outs events in Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Malaysia as FIFA’s F4S programme continues to grow globally.

FIFA’s Talent Development Scheme has been a core focus for Kyrgyz Republic. Daniel Limones has been part of the project since January 2023, focusing on the development of players born in 2009 and 2010 who form the backbone of the Kyrgyz Republic national youth teams. He joined over 200 fellow coaches and specialists for an eight-day FIFA seminar held in Doha. FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development Arsene Wenger and FIFA Director of Global Football Development Steven Martens led discussions encompassing topics as diverse as player performance, technical leadership and coach education development.

Developing football infrastructure globally

Developing suitable high level football facilities in every corner of the globe is a cornerstone of the FIFA Forward programme. Guinea will benefit from the installation of three state-of-the-art synthetic pitches following a recent visit from FIFA’s Dakar office. There is also excitement in Sierra Leone with a similar investment to result in four synthetic pitches across different locations. The Forward programme also allowed for Zimbabwe youngsters to benefit from new equipment such as kit, balls and bibs. Meanwhile, Samoa will relocate to a new facility at Apia Park with the existing headquarters developed into a High Performance Centre and Academy. The new facility, with investment from FIFA will feature futsal courts, three new pitches and the administration block.

Referee development to the fore

No football match can take place without a referee and numerous recent activities have helped further develop the quality and quantity of match officials. Costa Rica recently recognised no less than 25 match officials who are eligible to officiate in international fixtures, and Burundi also welcomed their 2024 intake of international match officials. Meanwhile, Zambian match official Diana Chikotesha received a warm welcome home after creating a unique slice of history by becoming the first female match official to feature in a men’s CAF Africa Cup of Nations final. Finally, in Lebanon, Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was rolled out for the first time.

Japan-Cambodia fraternity

Japan’s ongoing mutual relationship with Cambodia received another boost with the former’s donation of football equipment. The most high profile bond between the two nations featured Samurai Blue icon Keisuke Honda in a five-year stint as coach of the Southeast Asian nation’s men’s national team.