Wednesday 03 May 2023, 12:30

FIFA Forward workshop paves the way for more growth in West Asia

  • FIFA Forward 3.0 workshop hosted in Saudi Arabia for West Asian countries

  • The new iteration of the programme will bring added development in the region

  • Wide-ranging workshop covered several topics for the 12 nations in attendance

Football in West Asia is enjoying an unprecedented level of growth. The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ undoubtedly energised the game in the region like never before. Sandwiched either side of world football’s premier tournament, the region is also the host for the continent’s elite in the shape of the 2019 and 2023 AFC Asian Cup, organised by United Arab Emirates and Qatar respectively. And, of course, it was just a few months ago that Saudi Arabia stunned the world with an era-defining win over Argentina at Qatar 2022 – the only defeat suffered by the eventual world champions at the tournament. It is against this backdrop that Saudi Arabia played host as West Asia’s Member Associations (MA's) gathered to steer a course for future football growth. Riyadh was the venue for an expansive three-day course - attended by all 12 of the region’s MA's – with the event plotting the way ahead for FIFA Forward 3.0. It followed on from similar workshops across the globe, the most recent edition for the world’s largest continent being in Vietnam for Southeast Asia MA’s.

Saudi Arabia offered trademark hospitality to their visiting neighbours. “We are hosting this workshop because of our belief that nobody can improve alone,” said Secretary General of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, Ibrahim Al Kassim. “Everyone must work together to improve football in this region. “FIFA Forward is a great programme. We have seen its positive impact in Saudi Arabia and in other federations as well.” The world governing body’s new iteration of its major development programme continues the work of FIFA Forward 2.0 with its tailor-made investment approach. FIFA Forward 3.0 kicked off at the commencement if this year and, like the previous two programmes, allows FIFA to redistribute income to all its associations for the development of football.

Football Development

FIFA Forward 3.0

Up to USD 5 million

For each member association to cover its operational costs in relation to football activities.

Up to USD 3 million

For each member association to execute well-planned, specific football projects that contribute to the achievement of long-term football development objectives.

Up to USD 1.2 million

For member associations that are identified as needing the most assistance, to cover the costs of travel and accommodation for their national teams as well as football equipment.

There will be greatly increased levels of funding in the new version, with the investment – overseen by FIFA’s regional offices – increased by 30 per cent. “It was important for us to gather all West Asian associations in order to explain the amendments to regulations, to explain how we can best use these funds, and to explain the new services that FIFA is going to provide to all these member associations for the development of football everywhere and for all,” FIFA Chief Member Associations Officer Kenny Jean-Marie.

The Riyadh workshop featured a wide-ranging programme, in addition to its primary focus on FIFA Forward 3.0. Among the additional topics were talent development, women’s football, Football for Schools, FIFA digital skills and much more. “This workshop is for the 12 West Asian MAs and is to explain about the new FIFA Forward 3.0 programme, the new regulations and how best to spend the funding,” said Sanjeevan Balasingam, FIFA Director of Member Associations Asia & Oceania. “The funding is much larger than the last two cycles of our FIFA Forward programme. “We are here to explain to them how best to spend the funding, understand what they want to do with the money, and what kind of projects we’re looking at. And we’re going to support them every step of the way, and this workshop is the first step in that direction.”

Qatar have long recognised the need for long-term planning both on and off the field, a fact borne out by their highly successful staging of the World Cup late last year. Secretary General of the Qatar Football Association, Mansoor Al-Ansari said: “At the Qatari federation, we have benefited greatly from the FIFA Forward programme for projects within Qatar. There is of course a continuous update for each cycle. “The next phase offers additional development with greater standards and additional support. This is, of course, something positive, as it will have a substantial and preferable impact on the international football system. “Football never stops at any particular moment and is continuously developing, never stopping at any stage.”

Discover more

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The core principles

Find out more about the FIFA Forward core principles.

Programme history

Explore the history of the FIFA Forward Programme since the first edition in 2016.