Annual Report 2021

Forewords ­

7 min. reading time

President's Foreword­

As global competitions returned in 2021, we pledge to take a universal and inclusive approach for the future of football.

FIFA competitions returned in 2021 with a worldwide focus on action that brought joy, drama, unbridled emotions and hope to football lovers, helping them to loosen the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic– so that we can all come past this pandemic stronger, healthier and more unified than ever before.

Football will be at the centre of the world’s attention in the coming years, with the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 to be followed by the first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup with 32 teams, in Australia and New Zealand in 2023. As we work together to deliver those important events, FIFA continues to make progress towards achieving the 11 goals of The Vision 2020-2023 while also protecting our 211 member associations from the most direct impact of the pandemic on the foundations for their development.

In 2021, we also set in motion the most inclusive and thorough consultation process the world of football has ever seen, aimed at shaping its future. Football is at a crossroads moment and its future is something that concerns us all, at every level. We must all work together to ensure that the game is protected, nurtured and developed for generations to come – and that every boy and girl has access to it, all around the world. This is our commitment and responsibility, and I have been encouraged by the progress made during this consultation process, which I look forward to continuing in 2022.

Recognition of the establishment of a new, transparent and responsible FIFA since 2016 came from the United States Department of Justice over the past year through the award of more than USD 201 million to the FIFA Foundation – as compensation for the losses suffered as a victim of decades of malpractices. Global competitions have returned, with the pandemic ongoing, and it has been our duty to use their significant stage to support messages of public health during this turbulent period. The #ReachOut and #ACTogether campaigns – in conjunction with the World Health Organization and a range of other stakeholders – have used football to raise awareness of mental health issues and the need for equal access to treatments across the globe. #HealthComesFirst, in football as in society.

Football will be at the centre of the world’s attention in the coming years, with the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 to be followed by the first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup with 32 teams, in Australia and New Zealand in 2023.

The health of our sport is always at the top of our agenda and we continue to work for the protection and promotion of football across our 211 member associations. All of our stakeholders have a voice as we look towards the future of the International Match Calendars (men’s and women’s), enriching our sport by listening to a broad cross-section of perspectives and opinions. All with one clear goal – to make football truly global and fitter for the society of today and tomorrow.

As we continue our journey to realising this vision, more lovers of football across the world will be able to dream of glory on the greatest stage, as we increase global competitiveness and work towards our objective of 50 clubs and 50 national teams, from both men’s and women’s football, having the ability to realistically compete to become world champions.

When the eyes of billions across the world are focused on Qatar at the end of 2022 with that magic trophy as the prize on 18 December, football fans will get an introduction to a part of the world that many of them will not have experienced before – and with that, an exposure to a hospitable and special culture that embraces the values of our sport and its most iconic tournament.

We hope that you will all enjoy the greatest spectacle in football and celebrate the progress that we are making together to truly globalise our sport.

Yours in football,

Gianni Infantino
FIFA President

Secretary General Foreword­

Despite the protracted global health pandemic and its negative impacts on the world of sport and the entertainment industry, football continued to bring joy and hope to millions of people worldwide, cementing its place in society as the world’s most beloved game.

In light of the challenges that the world and football were facing over the past two years, FIFA strove to keep the ball rolling by introducing the COVID-19 Relief Fund in 2020 and made USD 1.5 billion available to support all 211 member associations and the six confederations to help alleviate the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2021, more than 90% of FIFA’s member associations benefitted from FIFA’s COVID-19 Relief Fund and that is something that we can all take pride in, as it has allowed thousands of clubs along with millions of players and participants in football worldwide to navigate their way through this challenging period.

Bringing more people to football was a key focus of FIFA’s work throughout 2021 with the launch of the African School Champions Cup in partnership with CAF and the African Union. The initiative will bring schoolchildren from all over Africa together through the fun and enjoyment of football to teach them the importance of teamwork, self-confidence, strategy, respecting rules, fair play and much more. It will also help young people to be recruited and trained in refereeing, should they so desire.

The launch of FIFA’s online Training Centre academy in 2021 provided further entry for people into football with insightful resources developed by the sport’s leading experts aimed at coaches and players across the world to help them improve and develop the football ecosystem.

As part of our vision of making football truly global, FIFA also wants to set the focus on talent development all around the world and in 2021, our Talent Development Scheme entered its second phase through the creation of individual long-term plans with the member associations to improve the state of youth development and give every talent a chance.

We are also committed to bringing more women to professional football and in May 2021, we published the first-ever FIFA Benchmarking Report: Women’s Football – the first time ever that any organisation has produced a thorough and comprehensive analysis of the elite women’s football landscape at national level. It provides an important reference point to guide the key decisions shaping the professionalisation and future development of the women’s game from both the sporting and business perspectives.

Throughout 2021, FIFA continued to work with football stakeholders and the wider community to use the power of the beautiful game to bring positivity during times of uncertainty and in this regard, we launched our #SafeHome initiative to reach people on the important topic of domestic violence.

The highlight of 2021 was the safe and successful hosting of the inaugural FIFA Arab Cup in Qatar in December, a key test event in terms of the country’s operational readiness for the FIFA World Cup.

We continued our close collaboration with the World Health Organization. Together, we launched a public awareness campaign during the FIFA Club World Cup 2020 in Qatar in February 2021 that highlighted the importance of accelerating the development and production of, as well as equitable access to, COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines.

The highlight of 2021 was the safe and successful hosting of the inaugural FIFA Arab Cup in Qatar in December, a key test event for the country’s operational readiness for the FIFA World Cup. It was a unique and exciting competition that saw 22 national teams from the Arab regions participate in a tournament that brought joy to millions of football fans across the Middle East and Arab world in particular.

As we approach the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, we have a unique opportunity to lift the spirits and hearts of millions of people worldwide by losing themselves in the drama, passion and joy of the FIFA World Cup. This particular tournament will take place at a moment in our shared history when we hope that the trials and tribulations of the pandemic will be behind us, and we can unite in a celebration of better times through the platform of football.

Until then, we remain committed to protecting, preserving and developing football by ensuring that equality runs through everything FIFA does and football is used as a vector for positivity.

Yours sincerely,

Fatma Samoura
FIFA Secretary General