71st FIFA Congress
At the 71ˢᵗ FIFA Congress, held virtually in May 2021, President Gianni Infantino outlined 11 areas for action in football. FIFA also resolved to explore new competition opportunities and determined that all future FIFA Women’s World Cup hosts would be decided by the FIFA Congress.
The 71ˢᵗ FIFA Congress voted unanimously to bring the bidding process for the hosting of the FIFA Women’s World Cup into line with the process for the men’s tournaments. The FIFA Council had previously approved the appointment of Australia and New Zealand for the 2023 edition in a transparent vote, but future tournaments will now be allocated through FIFA’s legislative body.
Meeting by videoconference for the second time, the Congress also agreed a number of proposals submitted by member associations, namely:
that a comprehensive consultation process be conducted to explore opportunities for women’s global competitions, including a women’s world league (proposal put forward by the Jamaica Football Federation);
that a feasibility study be carried out to explore the possible impact of holding the FIFA World Cup and FIFA Women’s World Cup every two years instead of the current four-year interval (proposal put forward by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation); and
that the FIFA administration make a proposal for the future of FIFA’s youth competitions (proposal put forward by the Liberian Football Association).
During the meeting, the Congress also unanimously agreed to create a new Football Tribunal within FIFA that would take over dispute-resolution responsibilities from the dissolved Players’ Status Committee.
Areas for action
Addressing the 211 FIFA member associations across all six confederations and covering every time zone of the world, the President summarised 11 areas for action over the course of the year following the Congress, in which FIFA would take a leading role. From improving the men’s and women’s international match calendars for the sake of the players and various other stakeholders to looking at opportunities to interconnect the global football community further by harnessing modern technology, President Infantino listed the top priorities for world football’s governing body.
11 areas for action
International match calendar
Men’s, women’s and youth competitions
The Laws of the Game
The social role of football
Continued expansion of the women’s game
On the subject of women’s football, the President highlighted the ongoing growth of the women’s game and the fact that qualifying for the 2023 edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup would feature a significant boost in participants from the 140 that contested the qualifiers for the 2019 edition. Now was the time for FIFA to build on this momentum and further professionalise and commercialise the women’s game, such as through stand-alone media rights deals and new competitions.
Bringing balance to the transfer system
Referring to the international transfer market, the FIFA President highlighted that there was still a heavy imbalance in world football and that the global spend on player transfers (USD 7 billion in 2019) was not reflected in the payment of compensation to training clubs (just USD 70 million in 2019), which often went unremunerated. To remedy this, the FIFA Clearing House would help enforce training compensation and solidarity payments, potentially raising the amount to USD 300 million per year.
Giving every talent a chance
On youth football and technical development, the FIFA President highlighted the Give Every Talent a Chance initiative, through which FIFA is working with its member associations to develop tailor-made plans to help them develop youth footballing prospects. FIFA also resolved to look at the situation of referees worldwide and to seek to further professionalise their involvement in the game.
Laws, governance and finance matters
In addition, FIFA strengthened its resolve to work on improving the Laws of the Game to protect the interests of the players (with the introduction of concussion substitutions) and to encourage attacking football, proposing a change to the interpretation of the offside law in view of the impact of VARs. Finally, the FIFA Congress also voted on the election and/or re-election of the chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of the independent committees, and approved FIFA’s financial statements for 2020 as well as the detailed budget for 2022.