Thursday 28 December 2023, 08:45

Vintage year for FIFA-run events

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  • 2023 was an exciting year for FIFA tournaments

  • FIFA Women’s World Cup, U-20 and U-17 World Cups and two FIFA Club World Cups were among the highlights

  • Numerous records were set on and off the pitch

The past year has been particularly thrilling for players and fans of the beautiful game. While the previous year had concluded with a flourish, as Argentina triumphed in a breathless showdown at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the 12 months that followed were also extremely action-packed for world football’s governing body, which oversaw a number of events and tournaments that will remain engraved in the collective memory. 

From The Best FIFA Football Awards and the FIFA Women’s World Cup to the FIFA Congress, FIFA U-20 World Cup, FIFA U-17 World Cup and two FIFA Club World Cup tournaments, Inside FIFA takes a leisurely leaf through the most intriguing pages of the stories told over the year gone by.

FIFA Club World Cup: Real Madrid extends its record

Real Madrid extended their record as the most successful club in the history of the  FIFA Club World Cup with their sixth final victory in Morocco. Their 5-3 success over Al Hilal was the highest-scoring final in the history of the FIFA Club World Cup.

Real Madrid’s victory also saw Carlo Ancelotti equal Pep Guardiola’s record total of three FIFA Club World Cup titles as a coach. Ancelotti also won the tournament previously in 2007 with AC Milan and 2014 with Real Madrid.

The Best FIFA Football Awards: Messi celebrated, Putellas confirmed

The Best FIFA Football Awards saw a celebration of the stars of 2022 at the prestigious ceremony. Unsurprisingly, Lionel Messi, instrumental in Argentina’s World Cup-winning exploits, scooped the Best Men’s Player award, while Emiliano Martinez and Lionel Scaloni won the Best Men’s Goalkeeper and Best Men’s Coach accolades respectively. 

On the women’s side, Spain’s Alexia Putellas received the Best Women’s Player award for the second consecutive year. England’s 2022 Women’s Euro victory also translated into official recognition, as Lionesses custodian Mary Earps and coach Sarina Wiegman were named Best Women’s Goalkeeper and Best Women’s Coach. 

FIFA Congress: Re-election and objectives

Each year, the hub of football governance known as the FIFA Congress draws together representatives of the 211 member associations to discuss crucial issues and make strategic decisions for the future of the game.

The 73rd such gathering saw FIFA President Gianni Infantino re-elected by acclamation to serve a second term on the back of a highly successful 2019-2022 cycle, which included an unprecedented rise in revenue coupled with a record investment in football development and major advances in good governance and transparency. 

During his acceptance speech, the FIFA President made 11 promises related to the future of global football, restating his commitment to supporting the healthy growth of the sport worldwide through ambitious development programmes designed to assist each member association in attaining its full potential while promoting the values of integrity, diversity and inclusion. 

FIFA U-20 World Cup: A Uruguayan first

FIFA President Gianni Infantino poured praise on Argentina for the country’s hosting of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup after witnessing Uruguay defeat Italy in the final at the Estadio La Plata. A dramatic 86th-minute winner from Luciano Rodriguez in the final against Italy earned Uruguay the first U-20 world title of their proud football history. The game brought the curtain down on the 24-team tournament, which Argentina staged after stepping in as hosts barely a month before the scheduled 20 May start. The game was also attended by around 400 children and youngsters from two groups – Asociación Civil Andar and the Fundación Defensores del Chaco – who have benefitted from the FIFA Foundation Community Programme, a global initiative that supports local groups that place football at the heart of their social projects.

FIFA Women’s World Cup: A southern spectacle

The ninth FIFA Women’s World Cup, hosted by Australia and New Zealand, delivered all that it had promised and more, breaking a series of records. The first edition to be held in the southern hemisphere, the tournament featured 32 teams instead of the previous 24. Despite this expansion, the vast majority of matches were evenly balanced and exhilarating, with new contenders and talents making their mark. 

From this open and competitive field, new champions emerged in the shape of Spain, who defeated England in the final. Record television audiences watched the 64 games, which were played in packed stadiums, and the calibre of the host countries’ organisation was roundly praised. In addition, the Women’s World Cup shone from a cultural and social viewpoint, with a particular emphasis placed on diversity and inclusion. 

FIFA U-17 World Cup: Tomorrow’s talents take centre-stage

After a four-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in the cancellation of the 2021 tournament, the FIFA U-17 World Cup made a welcome comeback this year in Indonesia. As usual, the competition offered a unique platform to talented youngsters, serving as a springboard for the future stars of world football. 

At the culmination of the intense and eye-catching event, which very much lived up to its billing, Germany claimed the title for the first time, overcoming France in the final. Mali, meanwhile, clinched third place, again demonstrating their excellent youth development efforts at a tournament in which they finished second in 2015 and fourth in 2017. 

And to help develop the elite footballers of the future, FIFA again organised the Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup in Zurich, as it does every year. 

FIFA Club World Cup: Grand finale

The year ended on a high note for football lovers as the world’s top teams gathered in Saudi Arabia for the FIFA Club World Cup. Not for the first time in 2023, first-time champions – in this case, Manchester City – lifted the illustrious trophy. Capping off a historic treble (Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League), Pep Guardiola's men brushed aside the competition, scoring seven unanswered goals over their two matches. 

Coming up in 2024… 

The forthcoming year promises to be just as exciting as the last, with several highly anticipated events on the agenda, such as The Best FIFA Football Awards, the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, the Men’s and Women’s Olympic Football Tournaments at Paris 2024, the FIFA Futsal World Cup, the FIFA Intercontinental Cup, and further sets of qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup 26 in five of the six confederations.

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