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FIFA clocks 120 today

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Robert Guerin, FIFA founding president 120 years ago

BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

There may be no celebration, but the world football governing body is 120 years old today, having been founded on 21 May 1904 in Paris, France. It is the foundation in France that occasioned its French name as Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).

It was founded at the rear of the headquarters of Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques (USFSA) at the Rue Saint Honoré 229 in Paris.

Rue Saint-Honore 229, where FIFA was founded in 1904

Though founded in Paris, the headquarters moved to Zurich, Switzerland in 1932. In Zurich, the headquarters have also changed twice with the current one being a five-story building, two of which are underground.

Bahnhofstrrasse 77 in Zurich which housed FIFA from 1932 to 1954.

The French name and acronym are universally adopted outside French-speaking countries. The founding members were the national associations of Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain (represented by Real Madrid), Sweden and Switzerland.

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FIFA’s Home from 1954 to 1977: “Villa Derwad” at Hitzigweg 11, Zurich.

On the same day, the  German FA (DFB) reportedly  declared its intention to affiliate through a telegram. The British, despite their claims to be the originators of football, were not founding members of FIFA and only joined.

From 1977 to 1979, The fourth building to house FIFA: Aurorastrasse 60 in Zurich

England joined on 14 April 1905, Scotland and Wales  in 1910 while the fourth British association, Norther Ireland joined in 1911.

FIFA House inaugurated on 21 May 1979

 The founding president of FIFA was Robert Guerin of France. The first FIFA Congress was helld two days later on 23 May 1904 where the president was elected.

 FIFA Headquarters since 29 May 2007

The founders at the time, including Victor E. Schneider of Switzerland and Carl Anton Wilhelm Hirschmann of the Netherlands – both vice presidents,  as well as first Secretary, Louis Muhlinghaus of Belgium, faced difficulties as FIFA only existed on paper.  

FIFA foundation documents

By the second FIFA Congress in Paris from 10 to 12 June 1905, other national associations of Germany, Austria, Italy and Hungary joined.

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 In the following months, the founding president, Guerin increasingly withdrew from sports and handed over to the vice presidents. By 1906, the English man, Daniel Burley Woolfall was elected as the FIFA President.

 At the time up till 1909, , FIFA only consisted of European countries. The first outside Europe countries joined in the following order: South Africa in 1909/10, Argentina and Chile in 1912 and USA in 1913.

 Nigeria provisionally joined in 1959 and got confirmed at the Rome Congress of 22 August 1960 as joint 87th member along with Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia, Kenya, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Malta and Puerto Rico.

  Despite existing since 1904, FIFA was unable to organise a tournament of its own until the first World Cup in 1930. The outbreak of World War I in 1914 was a major blow.

FIFA was in comatose. Its president, Daniel Burley Woolfall died in 1918.

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 While the war was on and in the absence of a president, secretary, Carl Anton Wilhelm Hirschmann kept FIFA alive from his offices in Amsterdam.

As one of the founders himself, Hirschmann took contacts of all the members at the end of the war and was aided by Jules Rimet, the president of the French FA. Following the war, the four British associations left FIFA.

On 1 March 1921, Rimet became the third FIFA president.FIFA came back to life.  He initiated the first World Championship in 1930. The membership grew steadily from 20.

In the 33 years of Rimet’s presidency, there was an upswing in FIFA membership and and activities.

 On passing on the reins in 1954 at the beginning of the fifth World Cup in Switzerland, FIFA had 85 members. At the moment, FIFA has 211 member countries.

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There have been nine substantive presidents in 120 years while three others – Carl Anton Wilhelm Hirschman of Netherlands (1918-1920), Ernst B. Thommen of Switzerland (1961) and Issa Hayatou of Cameroon (2015-2016)  were in acting capacities.

  Brazil’s Joao Havelange became the first non-European president in 1974.  The current president is Gianni Infantino, an Italian-Swiss.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

Governing Bodies

Samuel Eto’o apologises and reinstates Cameroon coach Brys

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Former Cameroonian star forward and now football federation president Samuel Eto’o apologised Thursday to national team coach Marc Brys, with whom he had been involved in a heated exchange this week.

The ex-Barcelona striker also confirmed Brys would remain in his position after it was announced the Belgian was to be replaced as head coach of Cameroon on Wednesday.

“I apologise because during our first unfortunate meeting, there was a lot of emotion… but the Cameroonian people are more important than us, and it is for them that we must work,” said Eto’o at a press conference.

Eto’o was referring to an incident captured on video during his first meeting with Brys, which was widely shared on social media Tuesday.

The pair were seen to engage in a heated argument, before Brys left abruptly.

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“Your mission is not an easy one, despite your qualities and experience, but you should know that you will have our support,” added the two-time Africa Cup of Nations winner.

Brys was appointed to the role in April by Cameroon’s sport ministry, much to the astonishment of the country’s football federation (Fecafoot) and its president Eto’o wrote to the ministry to denounce its “illegal” appointment of the 62-year-old.

Fecafoot said it regretted not being involved “closely, nor remotely” in the selection process for the new coach and his staff.

Belgian Brys will now oversee Cameroon’s next two crucial matches in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, against Cape Verde on June 8 and Angola three days later.

-AFP

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Governing Bodies

Footballers warn FIFA of looming strike

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FIFA Completely Opposed To 'blue Cards' -

Players have warned world soccer’s governing body FIFA that they are ready to go on strike over concerns the playing calendar is overloaded, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) said.

Maheta Molango, who has been calling for change since February, believes players have reached a breaking point. He says football’s packed schedule endangers players’ health and diminishes the quality of the sport.

“I can tell you a situation not 10 days ago where I went into a dressing room that was directly affected and said: ‘I’m happy to be here and bark a bit, but ultimately it’s up to you. How far do you want to go?” Molango told the BBC.

“Some of them said: ‘I’m not having it, we might as well go on strike. Some said: ‘What’s the point? Yes, I’m a millionaire, but I don’t even have time to spend the money’.

Demands on players have increased in recent years, as tournaments expanded and new competitions emerged, with players and managers criticising that the calendar demanded too many matches.

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“It was not even the union that said it, it was Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. We have reached a point where we cannot rule out any action,” Molango said.

Global players’ union FIFPRO, along with the PFA and the World Leagues Association (WLA), have threatened to take legal action if FIFA continues in this direction.

In a letter addressed to FIFA President Gianni Infantino and General Secretary Mattias Grafstrom, they expressed their concerns over the expansion of the new 32-team Club World Cup.

In response, FIFA denied their claims it had taken unilateral decisions to favour its competitions in the international calendar and would not consider rescheduling the tournament.

“Some of the changes in England with the domestic calendar have been forced by what FIFA and UEFA have done. What has happened is further confirmation that something needs to be done,” Molango said

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“We will always try to exhaust all diplomatic avenues, we have sent a letter, we have received a reply, but unfortunately time is against us. Sometimes between grown-up people, despite trying very hard to find solutions you need a third party to decide, maybe an arbitrator or a tribunal,” he said.

-Reuters

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Governing Bodies

Blow by blow exchange that thwarted meeting of Eto’o and Marc Brys

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Samuel Eto'o and Marc Brys get into hot exchanges

BY KUNLE SOLAJA. 

Disagreement between the ministry of sports in Cameroon and the leadership of the football federation of Cameroon (FECAFOOT) may have been the cause of the impasse currently going on in that country.

As the clock ticks down to Cameroon’s World Cup qualifying matches with Cape Verde and Angola, the team currently parade two head coaches.

On one hand is Belgium’s Marc Brys who is appointed by the Ministry of Sports and Physical Education. His appointment does not go down well with FECAFOOT led by Samuel Eto’o Fils.

On the other hand is Martin Ndtoungou who on Tuesday was named the new coach by Eto’o. In a press statement, FECAFOOT  chronicled what were seen as infractions on the part of Brys.

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First was his refusal to attend an earlier meeting slated for 10 May and initiated by the Secretary General of FECAFOOT.

Another offence was the Belgian release of players’ list for upcoming matches and holding a press conference in violation of FECAFOOT procedures. He was also accused of not communicating training schedules and taking isolated work initiatives as well as disclosing information of players to third parties and media without FECAFOOT’s approval.

Eto’o also accused the Belgian of not communicating the final list of players within the allocated time.

Press statement issue by FECAFOOT

Those appear the remote causes of the crisis which peaked following a botched meeting of the Belgian and the FECAFOOT officials on Tuesday.

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A technical adviser to the Cameroon Ministry of Sports and Physical Education, Cyrille Tollo who demanded for the agenda of the meeting was fired out on the orders of Eto’o.

He was suspected to be carrying out instructions from the sports minister.  When Tollo was asked to leave the meeting, the Belgian coach opted to also leave.

There and then the hot exchanges ensued.

Samuel Eto’o: “Please stay so we can work. If you leave, you won’t come back.”

Marc Brys: “Why are you talking like that!?”

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Samuel Eto’o: “I am president here.”

Marc Brys: “I’m a coach here.”

Samuel Eto’o: “You are a coach because I appointed you. I ask you to stay in this meeting. Because if you do not stay, I am obliged to question my Executive Committee.”

Marc Brys: “It’s me who decides.”

Samuel Eto’o: “You don’t decide. What you do, I take responsibility. In your country, you can’t do that. And you don’t talk to me like that. As a footballer, you can’t never talk to me. Stay, we’re working. Which country do you think I can do this in?

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Marc Brys: “No!”

Samuel Eto’o: “How can you do that in Cameroon? I was a coach.”

Marc Brys: “For 3 weeks.”

Samuel Eto’o: “I was a very great player.”

Marc Brys: “I’m leaving.”

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Samuel Eto’o: “If you leave, don’t come back.”

A source in Cameroon informed Sports Village Square that Eto’o may have shut himself in the hips as he is seen to be heading into confrontation with the government.

  It is gathered that that the minister in charge of internal affairs has instructed council heads not to permit any meeting of FECAFOOT.

  It is further gathered that the government was in the process of auditing the FECAFOOT accounts owing to fund disbursed but not accounted for.

  It is gathered that prior to Qatar 2022 World Cup, FECAFOOT collected 2.5 billion cfa which is about $4,142,675. The money which was to be refunded at the end of December 2022 has not been repaid.

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