FIFA (or Federation de Football Association – that is, Federation of Association Football) is the governing body of international soccer. It was created in Paris, France, on May 21, 1904, for the improvement of the sport.
The foundation act was signed by delegates from France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and Spain. Two days after its foundation, the organization met in its first Congress, where Robert Guerin of France was elected as president..
In 1906, FIFA hosted the first international soccer competition ever. It wasn’t very successful, though. This, coupled with failing economics, led to Guerin’s replacement by Daniel Burley Woolfall, an Englishman.
Under Woolfall’s direction, FIFA’s participation in the 1908 Olympics fared much better than the organization’s first attempt. At first, only European nations were in the federation. In 1909, however, South Africa joined, followed three years later by Argentina and Chile, then one year later by the USA and Canada. Then World War I hit hard.
During World War I, FIFA faltered, with many players being sent off to war, and the price of international travel rising so far. By the end of the first World War, in 1921, there were only 20 nations in the organization. The United Kingdom countries (England, Scotland, and Ireland) pulled out of the federation, saying that they didn’t want to compete against or participate with their former World War enemies.
At the end of Jules Rimet’s (the third FIFA president) 33 year presidency, however, FIFA boasted a participation of 85 members. The United Kingdom countries returned, thanks to Rimet’s wonderful diplomatic skills. He retired at the age of 80.
A Belgian, Rodolphe William Seeldrayers, became the organization’s fourth president. Under his rule, FIFA celebrated its 50 year anniversary. When he died in 1955, Arthur Drewry became the federation’s fifth president. During his presidency, the 6th World Cup in Stockholm went well.
He ruled until he died in 1961, at 70 years old. Ernst B. Thommen, a Swiss, was not the 6th president. Instead, he ruled from the position as Chairman of FIFA’s Organizing Committee, and things went well. Sir Stanley Rous was the sixth president. Things went well for FIFA again, especially financially.
In 1974, Dr. Joao Havelange, a Brazilian, became president. He ushered in a new era for soccer and FIFA, and the organization became more of an enterprise, striving to better the sport, rather than just an organization trying to meet and maintain the status quo.
In 1998, when Joseph S. Blatter of Switzerland became president, FIFA had reached almost full globalization. Today, FIFA organizes and maintains the prestigious soccer World Cup, which is coveted by countless of soccer players around the world.
FIFA also organizes and maintains several other prestigious cups, including the Women’s World Cup, and the Jules Rimet Cup. FIFA also helps with the Olympics. There are yearly FIFA World Cup video games sold everywhere in the developed world, and, as the organization’s motto says, FIFA strives to make the entire sport the best it can be.