Wednesday 29 May 2024, 09:25

Reaction from FIFA's 120th anniversary celebration in Paris

  • FIFA was founded in Paris on 21 May 1904

  • French FA President hails “pioneers and visionaries” who founded FIFA

  • “Football is uniting the world” – Belgian FA President

FIFA, founded 120 years ago on 21 May 1904 in Paris, France, celebrated its anniversary with a special ceremony led by the President of France Emmanuel Macron and the FIFA President Gianni Infantino. They were joined by senior FIFA officials, notably representatives of world football’s six confederations and of the seven founder members – 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.

What they said: “Historically, France has been central to world football. It has played a major role in the creation of international authorities and the various national and club competitions. Our leaders were pioneers and visionaries, and we are extremely proud today to be able to take over the management and development of the beautiful legacy they have left us. “This anniversary is an opportunity for us to witness how far we have come since 1904 and how important FIFA is in today’s world. Its role goes far beyond sport. Through its international competitions, it enables millions of people to play football, to dream and to make a living from their passion. Beyond football, FIFA promotes fundamental values such as fraternity, respect and tolerance. It plays a societal role through various aids and educational programmes set up to help developing countries. It also leaves a legacy in all the countries that host its competitions, especially in terms of infrastructure." Philippe Diallo, President of the French Football Association

FIFA President Gianni Infantino poses for a photo with Royal Belgian Football Association President Pascale Van Damme

“As one of the founding federations, as the president for Belgium, I’m really very honoured to be here. What I see is that football is really uniting people, uniting the world, uniting people around the world. So (this is) what FIFA is doing. I think it’s a great honour to be here as well to work together with all the FIFA members and with the great support and leadership of our FIFA President.” Pascale van Damme, President of the Belgian Football Association

FIFA President Gianni Infantino (R) with Danish Football Association President Jesper Møller

"It was a great honour for the Danish Football Association to be a part of the beautiful celebration at Elysée of FIFA’s 120th anniversary, together with the other founding members and President Emmanuel Macron. FIFA’s importance in the development of football across the world and in Denmark cannot be underestimated. We might not always agree, but that is also fine as long as we insist on a good and constructive dialogue and mutual respect. We are looking forward to continuing our close cooperation in the years to come and especially to continue the exciting development of women’s football." Jesper Møller, President of the Danish Football Association

FIFA President Gianni Infantino poses for a photo with Swedish Football Association Vice-President Simon Åström

“It was a solemn experience to represent Sweden as one of the founding members of FIFA and, together with many friends of the football family, being able to look back on the first 120 years of international football: to reflect on how football has developed and changed, but always remained as something that gives people happiness, a strong context and something to gather around. That, if anything, is worth celebrating. “The fact that Sweden was one of the founding nations says something about the status and history of football in our country, and for us it is important to continue to take part and share the responsibility of the development of international football. FIFA has an important and challenging task of keeping the footballing community together in a complex world. For us, it is important to be a voice and to stand up for the core values of football.” Simon Åström, Vice-President of the Swedish Football Association

 FIFA President Gianni Infantino with Swiss Football Association President Dominique Blanc

“It was a beautiful moment. A mixture of history, emotion, solemnity and cordiality. That of the great football family. The joint speech by the FIFA President and the President of the French Republic remarkably summed up the universality of football and the recognition of its great values. I was honoured and proud to represent the Swiss Football Association (SFA) with the visionary spirit and commitment of our predecessors that inspire me.

“Switzerland was one of the first countries to organise and take part in the first international matches. Its central position in Europe, the pioneering spirit and openness of its leaders and Switzerland's special status made it an ideal founding member.

“Since then, Swiss football has gone from strength to strength, and it remains the number one sport in a country where competition among sports is fierce.

“The SFA maintains a very high level of elite football with its national teams thanks to its training system, which makes it a 'high school of football'. In amateur football, the SFA relentlessly implements its strategy of "football for everyone, everywhere and for all lifetimes". This policy continues to bear fruit. The vitality of the clubs and the steady increase in the number of female and male members are proof of this.”

Dominique Blanc, President of the Swiss Football Association