FIFA Forward Programme

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The football landscape

FIFA Forward Pro­gramme

9 min. reading time

Funding Guaran­teed

Despite the financial threat presented by COVID-19 to many revenue sources for the football industry, Forward Programme development funding is ring-fenced against any such threats and remains a guaranteed source of investment for FIFA’s member associations.

With the introduction of Forward 2.0 in 2019, the member associations saw their development funding entitlement rise to five times what it was before the inception of the Forward Programme in 2016.

FIFA’s dedicated investments to football development have increased fivefold over the 2011-2014, 2015-2018 and 2019-2022 cycles (USD million)

A window on Forward development projects ­

In a move to bring greater transparency and recognition to the groundbreaking work being carried out through Forward Programme funding, FIFA introduced a new interactive tool on in 2020.

Offering easier access to the stories behind the development projects and initiatives, the interactive FIFA Forward Impact Map allows users to visualise the latest data related to projects and development initiatives being undertaken by the 211 member associations across the six confederations, including funding allocations.

An array of different case studies can be accessed by clicking on member association territories. The stories cover the full range of project types offered under the Forward Programme, from new pitches in Mongolia and a technical centre in Honduras to youth competitions in Poland and a whole suite of projects in Botswana.

The map also provides a breakdown of each member association’s funding by project type, helping to build a picture of their specific needs.

Football Australia

Bringing more inclusion and diversity into the game is one of FIFA’s main objectives, which is why world football’s governing body has been actively supporting Football Australia and the Pararoos team in their activities. The Pararoos are Australia’s senior men’s national football team for athletes with cerebral palsy, acquired brain injury, or symptoms induced by stroke.

At the end of 2019, they played their first match on home soil since the 2000 Paralympic Games. Taking place in Sydney, 100 per cent of ticket sales were directly redistributed to support the team’s activities. The match had the look and feel of a FIFA senior international game, something that Football Australia was committed to ensuring in order to make sure that the players experienced exactly what the Socceroos and Matildas enjoy on a regular basis.

Utilising project funding under Forward 2.0, as well as being able to play their first home match in 19 years, the Pararoos organised training camps in preparation for the IFCPF (International Federation of Cerebral Palsy Football) Nations Championship in June 2020.

On top of record crowds, the Pararoos realised the highest merchandise spend per fan of any Australian national team match in 2019. Matchday activities included approximately 200 disabled children getting involved as flag bearers, mascots and ball kids, as well as participating in half-time mini-games.

Botswana Football Association ­

Developing football in a holistic and sustainable manner is the aim of the Botswana Football Association (BFA). The foundations were laid in 2016 with the adoption of a football strategy promoting grassroots and youth football at regional level and focusing on growing women’s football. 

With the support of FIFA Forward, the BFA has had the opportunity to bring its strategy to life and roll out projects to nurture more talent, professionalise football administration and boost the women’s game.

The organisation of three grassroots festivals and the introduction of national U-15 and U-17 leagues with a total of 40 participating teams have both improved the level of play and enabled coaching and refereeing initiatives.

Meanwhile, the construction of an artificial-turf pitch at the BFA’s technical centre in Gaborone has enabled the country's national teams to train regularly in the best possible conditions. The pitch also hosts the senior women’s league every week and is a focal point for grassroots training and coaching/refereeing courses several times per week.

The BFA appointed Tsholofelo Sethoko as its Women’s Football Manager, who worked with FIFA’s Women’s Football Division to develop a women’s football strategy that includes increased coaching opportunities and development programmes for young women in the country, which is already paying dividends.

The country made it to the second stage of the African qualifying competition for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup™ for the first time and also reached the semi-finals of the inaugural COSAFA Women’s Under-17 Championship.

FIFA Forward enabled us to start dreaming that Botswana can also take its rightful place in the world of football.
Maclean Letshwiti
Botswana Football Association President

Brazilian Football Association

Despite the difficulties presented by COVID-19, the Brazilian Football Association (CBF) inaugurated new headquarters for the national Superior Sports Court for Football (STJD). 

The STJD is the highest instance of Brazilian football law, and discusses and rules on the legality of events in domestic football. It is composed of six disciplinary committees, an appeals body, prosecutors and administrative staff, with a total of 81 people serving the STJD. 

"We are very pleased with the modernisation of the STJD, supported by FIFA’s Forward Programme," said CBF President Rogério Caboclo. "It will bring the necessary innovation and most modern technology to the processes and decisions, related to all parties involved such as players, clubs and competitions in a country where the football community has continental dimensions."

Since 2012, the number of national competitions has expanded from seven to 19, significantly increasing the workload and the number of employees needed to deal with disciplinary cases.

The innovative offices provide employees and authorities with a fit-for-purpose working environment to further boost their efficiency and better serve Brazilian football. The FIFA Forward funds were vital to the remodelling of the property, equipping it with ample offices and meeting rooms as well as state-of-the-art technology to protect the STJD from any possible cyberattacks.

Canadian Soccer Association

Despite difficulties resulting from the pandemic, the Canadian Premier League (CPL) showed resilience and adaptability by organising a highly competitive and safe environment in collaboration with the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) and the relevant public health authorities.

The 2020 season was not only designed and implemented in a bubble model that allowed the competition to be played in a safe manner, it also saw an increase in the number of teams that participated in the “Island Games” on Prince Edward Island from 14 August to 19 September.

Safety was the top priority and a strict health-and-safety protocol developed in consultation between the CSA and public health authorities was applied to all players, coaches, club and league personnel, match officials, and broadcast staff. 

As part of the CSA’s 2019-2021 strategic plan – Canada Soccer Nation – the CPL was identified early on as a key FIFA Forward project in Canada. Since 2017, FIFA and the CSA have collaborated to support this new league aimed at growing the top part of Canada’s football pyramid to support the national teams’ performance on the international stage. 

The CPL offers a pathway for Canadian players and is a key element for football development in the country, with 51 new professional Canadian players registered after its first season in 2019.

Papua New Guinea Football Association

Regular gold medallists at the Pacific Games and perennial silver medal winners at the OFC Women’s Nations Cup, women’s football was already strongly embedded in Papua New Guinea.

However, with their regional hegemony challenged in recent years, the Papua New Guinea Football Association (PNGFA) has put a renewed focus on developing the local game further. With support from FIFA Forward, a revamped National Women’s Soccer League kicked off in November 2020. 

The 13-team competition features seven sides in a Lae City-based hub and six teams centred in the capital Port Moresby, with some of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2016 venues being utilised.

Accelerating impetus for women’s football in the Pacific is the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ to be hosted by Australia and New Zealand – another first for the region.

“There is huge interest in women’s football and it has grown massively over the years,” said PNGFA General Secretary Pius Letenge. “Our aim now for 2020 is to identify talented women and girls in football for development. These are hugely exciting times for female football and as the country’s flagship women’s competition, the revamped women’s league will have a key role to play in furthering this growth.”

Swiss Football Association

With the support of FIFA Forward, in mid-2019, the Swiss Football Association (SFV) started a 12-month project focusing on referee training. 

There are around 4,800 qualified and licensed referees and assistant referees in the association, and to maintain high standards across all levels of the game, each referee has to attend a refresher and/or further training course at least twice a year. This is the SFV’s way of ensuring that referees and assistant referees keep abreast of the latest changes to the Laws of the Game. 

“With the help of the project and the support of FIFA, we have managed to secure the long-term education and further training of Swiss referees via the measures that we have taken, and made sure that our investments are sustainable in the coming years,” explained Sascha Amhof, who is head of the SFV’s refereeing department.

“Overall, we have come away with a positive impression of our progress and we are proud of the fact that, as part of the FIFA project, we have been able to make an important step towards further establishing and maintaining the levels of our training structures.”