Friday 17 May 2024, 05:35

Gianni Infantino emphasises FIFA’s mission to grow football globally in FIFA Congress address

  • The 74th FIFA Congress was held in Bangkok, the first time it has taken place in Southeast Asia

  • FIFA President proposed staging an U-15 festival open to all FIFA Member Associations

  • Gianni Infantino reiterates that FIFA is “unique” in distributing revenue around the world

Gianni Infantino, addressing the FIFA Congress in Bangkok, Thailand, has stressed that FIFA’s mission is to grow football globally and provide more opportunities to play competitively to teams from all around the globe.

The FIFA President proposed organising an Under-15 football festival, open to all 211 FIFA Member Associations, in addition to the expansion of its U-20 and U-17 tournaments which is already underway. And he stressed that, despite organising only a tiny percentage of club and national team matches worldwide, FIFA was unique in that it distributed its revenue around the world – with around 70% of member associations relying on its support to organise football in their territories. Mr Infantino began his speech by talking about football’s unique power to bring people together. "We were saying (that) Football Unites the World. But we all know as well that today, we are living in a very aggressive and divided world,” he said. “Uniting this world is our responsibility, it is our answer to the aggression, our answer to the hate, our answer to the war. It is bringing people from all over the world together – this is what football does, from south to north from east to west…..The only thing that matters is the colour of the jersey that the players will wear for their club or national team.”

FIFA's mission, he said, was to continue growing the game around the world. Already, solidarity payments to member associations have increased seven-fold since 2016, while FIFA was providing new playing opportunities in both women's and men's football by enlarging and introducing new competitions. The most recent included the FIFA Women's Futsal World Cup™, with the first edition in the Philippines in 2025, and the FIFA Women's Club World Cup™, foreseen to start in 2026, after a decision by the FIFA Council earlier this week. The FIFA President also spoke of the FIFA Series friendly internationals, which were organised for the first time in March this year in five countries to provide national teams with opportunities to meet opposition from other confederations.

“Our duty is to offer more opportunities everywhere in the world, the opportunity to play, dream, be involved and, sometimes, change life. Also, the opportunity to grow not only as a footballer but also as a human being,” he said.

But FIFA should go even further -- and he proposed the introduction of an U-15 event, which should be viewed as a festival rather than a competition. "I think, it would really be beautiful to think as well about an U-15 World Cup, or rather a festival for U-15 teams (for) boys and girls, but from all 211 countries this time, without qualification. Everyone should be able to send a team to play in U-15 (football) festival somewhere in the world,” he said, adding that further discussions regarding the precise format will be considered.

In fact, the President said, most of the football organised by FIFA consisted of youth competitions. In terms of senior football, FIFA was responsible for only a small percentage of men’s club and national team games involving top sides. “With this one or two per cent of matches that FIFA organises, FIFA is financing football all over the world. The revenues that we generate are not just going to a few clubs in one country. The revenues that we generate are going to 211 countries all over the world. There is no other organisation that does that,” he said. “(We) should focus on what we have to do, on what our mission is, which is to organise events and competitions, and to develop football around the world because 70% of you, of the FIFA Member Associations, would have no football without the resources coming directly from FIFA.”