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Media Release

Fédération Internationale de Football Association

FIFA Strasse 20, P.O Box 8044 Zurich, Switzerland, +41 (0) 43 222 7777

Tuesday 21 May 2024, 19:30

FIFA celebrates 120th anniversary of foundation in Paris

  • FIFA President Gianni Infantino and President of France Emmanuel Macron lead ceremony in Paris to mark the 120th anniversary of organisation’s founding in France

  • Representatives of seven founder members join football and sporting dignitaries in the French capital

  • FIFA has since grown to 211 member associations, and organised tournaments in each of the six continental confederations

At the invitation of the French President Emmanuel Macron, FIFA President Gianni Infantino led celebrations of the 120th anniversary of FIFA’s foundation in Paris, France, and paid tribute to the “group of dreamers” who brought world football’s governing body to life. In his congratulatory message, the French President stressed the important role that FIFA and football has had in the past 120 years, with both Presidents stressing the importance of the close partnership that exists between the French government and FIFA. This link is illustrated by the fact that the FIFA Member Associations Division has been based in Paris since 2022, which has provided additional opportunities to strengthen this partnership. The cooperation between FIFA and France has further developed via the agreement signed between FIFA and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) in 2019 which aims to promote unifying, educational, cultural and humanitarian values around the world through youth-oriented football development programmes. President Infantino and President Macron were joined by senior FIFA officials, notably representatives of world football’s six confederations and of the seven founding members, FIFA Legends and other dignitaries from the football and sporting world in the French capital as FIFA marked the 120th anniversary of its establishment on Saturday, 21 May 1904, in France.

“We are here to thank, to remember, to celebrate. We have to start by thanking those who were here 120 years ago: Rue Saint Honoré 229, Robert Guérin, the first FIFA President. A group of dreamers, of visionaries representing six countries and one club, who represented a country – it was Madrid FC, Real Madrid who represented Spain. They founded it 120 years ago today – FIFA. So, of course, we have to thank them,” said the FIFA President. “We started with seven members 120 years ago. It's 211 now. The five billion people watching the FIFA World Cups and dreaming about football; the players and the FIFA Legends who are here today, those who make our hearts beat, who give us these incredible emotions, the fans from all over the world who follow their passion and who make football truly, truly unique. The history of 120 years, 120 years uniting the world.”

During the ceremony, President Infantino and representatives from the seven founder members of FIFA – the national football associations of Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland, as well as Real Madrid CF, who were the Spanish representatives 120 years ago – signed a commemorative certificate that was an exact copy of the document penned by the founder members in 1904. Mr Infantino also unveiled a commemorative plaque not far from the modest back room in a building at 229 rue Saint Honoré in Paris’ 1st arrondissement where FIFA was founded. It has since grown into a global organisation comprising 211 FIFA Member Associations and which has organised tournaments in each of the six continental confederations.

Attendees were also able to see some notable artefacts representing milestones in FIFA’s existence curated by the FIFA Museum, including the current and past FIFA World Cup™ and FIFA Women’s World Cup™ trophies. In addition to a slideshow of historical photos showing FIFA’s early years, the events of May 1904 that led to the organisation coming into being and the subsequent growth of the organisation were presented.

“We had our FIFA Congress last Friday in Bangkok, in Thailand, where we sent out a very strong message: a global stand against racism all together to eradicate racism, to kick it out of football and, hopefully, as well, of society. This is one of the values of the messages that, of course, we have in football, with the most important being to unite the world and to give joy and happiness to people,” Mr Infantino added, actions that received the full support of the French President. “FIFA has been the official happiness provider since 1904, for the last 120 years, and will continue to be so for the next 1,200 years at least,” the FIFA President concluded.

FIFA in 40 key dates

1 – 1904: The creation of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) in Paris, France, with Robert Guérin named the first FIFA President. The organisation is formed with seven members (Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland). 2 – 1906: First FIFA office opened in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. 3 – 1910: An association representing South Africa becomes a member of FIFA in 1910, but this entity would later withdraw from FIFA in 1924 leaving Egypt as the longest-tenured African nation in FIFA, having joined in 1923. 4 – 1912: Argentina and Chile become the first members from South America in 1912 and 1913 respectively. 5 – 1913: FIFA joins The International Football Association Board (The IFAB). 6 – 1914: Canada and the United States are the initial members from North America, both joining FIFA in 1914, with FIFA numbering 24 members upon the outbreak of World War I. 7 – 1924: FIFA creates a list of 34 international referees from nine countries “recommended by their respective National Associations to be capable to lead International Matches”; Asia is first represented by the Dutch East Indies association, which would leave FIFA at a later date, resulting in Thailand being the longest-serving member from that continent having joined in 1925. 8 – 1928: The launch of the FIFA World Cup™ approved at the 17th Ordinary FIFA Congress in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. 9 – 1930: First FIFA World Cup involving 13 teams is held in Uruguay with the hosts winning – and being the first to raise the Jules Rimet Trophy™ as victors. 10 – 1932: FIFA moves its office from Amsterdam to Zurich, Switzerland. 11 – 1948: FIFA organises in London - in conjunction with The Football Association - the first course for referees, as membership of the organisation now extends to 68, with New Zealand becoming the first member to represent Oceania. 12 – 1950: 27th Ordinary FIFA Congress takes place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the first held outside of Europe. 13 – 1958: The 16-nation FIFA World Cup in Sweden is the first in which all sides in a four-team group face each other and the top two progress to the quarter-finals. 14 – 1960: All forms of discrimination condemned at the 32nd Ordinary FIFA Congress in Rome, Italy. 15 – 1962: The number of member associations affiliated to FIFA passes 100. 16 – 1967: FIFA hires its first coach, Dettmar Cramer of the Federal Republic of Germany. 17 – 1970: Yellow and red card system launched at the FIFA World Cup in Mexico – a tournament that provided Brazil with their third title and the opportunity to keep the Jules Rimet Trophy. 18 – 1974: The new FIFA World Cup Trophy is presented for the first time. 19 – 1977: First FIFA World Youth Championship (later renamed FIFA U-20 World Cup™) held. 20 – 1982: The number of entrants for the FIFA World Cup exceeds 100 for the first time as 103 countries participate in qualifying. 21 – 1982: The FIFA World Cup expands to 24 teams. 22 – 1985: First FIFA U-16 World Championship held (later reorganised as the FIFA U-17 World Cup™). 23 – 1986: The round of 16 – not seen at a FIFA World Cup since 1938 – is reintroduced at the tournament in Mexico. 24 – 1989: First FIFA Futsal World Cup™ held. 25 – 1991: First FIFA Women’s World Cup™ (then titled the 1st FIFA World Championship for Women's Football) involving 12 teams is held in China PR with the United States crowned champions. 26 – 1993: Computer game FIFA International Soccer is released. 27 – 1998: The number of FIFA Member Associations passes 200, with membership standing at 203. 28 – 1998: The FIFA World Cup increases to 32 teams 29 – 2000: First FIFA Club World Championship held (later reorganised as the FIFA Club World Cup™). 30 – 2002: First FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship held (later reorganised as the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup™). 31 – 2004: First FIFA Interactive World Cup (later reorganised as the FIFA eWorld Cup™) is held. 32 – 2005: FIFA take over the running of the rebranded FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup™. 33 – 2008: Launch of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup™. 34 – 2015: The FIFA Women’s World Cup increases to 24 teams. 35 – 2016: Gianni Infantino elected as the ninth FIFA President and soon after membership increases to 211 FIFA Member Associations at the 66th Ordinary FIFA Congress in Mexico City, while FIFA Forward is launched and Fatma Samoura is appointed as the tenth FIFA Secretary General and the first woman. 36 – 2018: Video assistant referee (VAR) system is launched at the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018. 37 – 2022: FIFA Member Associations Division establishes its office in Paris, France, to facilitate developing football globally via FIFA Forward. 38 – 2023: An expanded 32-team FIFA Women’s World Cup takes place in Australia and New Zealand to global acclaim – a transformational tournament for women’s football. 39 – 2025: The new 32-team FIFA Club World Cup is scheduled to take place in the United States. 40 – 2026: An expanded 48-team FIFA World Cup is scheduled to take place in Canada, Mexico and the United States – the greatest show on the planet.