Thursday 21 December 2023, 17:00

Gianni Infantino outlines FIFA’s strategic objectives at FIFA Football Summit

  • FIFA President sets out Football Unites the World four-year strategy in detail

  • FIFA Football Summit 2023 attended by representatives of FIFA’s 211 Member Associations in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

  • Numerous FIFA departments, from refereeing to women’s football, give updates on project developments

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has laid out the organisation’s four-year strategy (2023-2027) for global football to representatives of all of FIFA’s 211 Member Associations at the FIFA Football Summit 2023 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Ahead of the FIFA Club World Cup 2023™ final between Fluminense FC and Manchester City FC in the Red Sea port city on Friday, the FIFA President added further detail to the plans to develop football he initially presented upon his re-election at the FIFA Congress in Kigali, Rwanda, in March 2023.

“You know where we are heading, you know what we want to do, but also, of course, to achieve these objectives, to achieve these results, we need the support of every one of you because our objectives, our goals are obviously to make football truly global and to involve and include the entire world,” the FIFA President told delegates, referring directly to the Football Unites the World strategy. “The most important thing that we have to remember is that we are here to organise football, not to organise meetings. So, we must make sure that the meetings are short and efficient, and that they have some results, so that we can go on the pitch and make sure that football is played in every corner of the world by every girl and every boy who just wants to kick a ball.”

Saudi Arabian Minister of Sports, HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal, also took to the event stage, and gave an overview of how football is playing a central role in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which is the blueprint for opening up the country to the world.

Saudi Arabia Minster for Sport HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal during FIFA Football Summit 2023

“In Saudi Arabia, I am proud to say that football is truly growing at every level – for girls and boys, men and women. We are in a moment of transformation, investing, growing and creating new opportunities for all,” he explained. “An incredible 80% of our population play, watch, or engage with the beautiful game. And our young people simply want to connect with different people and enjoy sports, especially football, just like the rest of the world.” FIFA Secretary General ad interim Mattias Grafström gave an overview of how the organisation aims to develop a cross-section of aspects of the game, on and off the pitch, while FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development Arsène Wenger detailed the ambition to end the four-year period with an elite academy – either directly established by FIFA or accredited by the organisation – in each member association.

Talent development was a central theme of the Summit with Spain’s FIFA Women’s World Cup™ winner Salma Paralluelo, who has won FIFA World Cups™ at U-17, U-20 and senior level, among those delivering a video message identifying how their careers had been enhanced by their involvement in FIFA’s youth tournaments. In addition, FIFA’s Chief Women’s Football Officer Sarai Bareman was joined by South Africa Football Association CEO Lydia Monyepao to discuss the positive impact of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ on participating nations and identifying the need to continue developing the sport. Saudi Arabia Football Federation Vice-President Lamia Bahaian and national team captain Bayan Sadagah also spoke about the benefits the transformational tournament had on the women’s game in the Kingdom, and how the sport was rapidly developing locally and on the international stage. Three officials who have refereed a FIFA World Cup™ or FIFA Women's World Cup™ final, Tori Penso (2023), Szymon Marciniak (2022), and Pierluigi Collina (2002), recounted their memories of taking charge of world football’s biggest game. In addition to outlining changes to how football is officiated, Mr Collina – Chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee – pleaded with MAs to stop violence against referees at all levels, stating, “Do something before it’s too late. Enough is enough!” In his closing remarks, President Infantino echoed those sentiments, saying: “Without referees, there’s no football. We all have to fight for the referees against any sort of abuse and violence against referees, but also to bring back respect and tolerance. And this starts with us, this starts with you.”

FIFA Referee Committee Chairman Pierluigi Collina with referees Szymon Marciniak and Tori Penso during the FIFA Football Summit 2023

FIFA World Cup winners and Legends Alessandro Del Piero, Kaká, and Gilberto Silva gave insight into how they coped with pressure at the top level of the game, and described the additional difficulties players at all levels and ages face due to on-line abuse. “All of us here can do our part to stop this online abuse,” Gilberto Silva told delegates. “All together we can do a lot of things.” Bhutan Football Federation President Dasho Ugen Tsechup also spoke about how the FIFA Forward programme, which helps to fund football-related development projects, had helped established football pitches in the mountainous Asian country. The Summit also featured on-stage contributions from FIFA Council member Rodolfo Villalobos, Football Association of Indonesia President Erick Thohir, Chilean Football Association President Pablo Milad, Polish Football Association President Cezary Kulesza, Saudi Arabian Football Federation Vice-President Lamia Bahaian and women's national team captain Bayan Sadagah.