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FIFA became a member of The IFAB

FIFA did not always belong to the IFAB, after all it is a few years younger. Surprised? Don’t be.

🇩🇪 Hallo! Diesen Artikel gibt es auch auf Deutsch. Wechsele hier zur deutschsprachigen Version.

Aberystwyth is a Welsh port town and its football club, Aberystwyth Town, was founded in 1884. That makes it two years older than the IFAB, the International Football Association Board.

FIFA – Fédération Internationale de Football Association – was not founded until 1904 and the name also shows that it was not founded in the United Kingdom. It was founded in Paris.

Why was the IFAB founded?

What is the IFAB? Yes, the International Football Association Board. But why was it founded? And by whom? I explained that four years ago here, but again in very short and understandable terms:

It is an association of the four British associations: the Scottish SFA, the Welsh FAW, the Irish IFA and the British FA. And this association became necessary because the football rules of the four countries differed and thus made international matches a bit more complex: Which rules do you play by? Those of the home teams? One half, the other half according to the others? Do you mix them up into a whole new set of rules? Phew. And it didn’t make it any easier for the players.

And so they first sat down in 1882, then published the Laws of the Game in 1886. The first British rules. (No thought was given to continental Europe or the other continents).

Why was FIFA founded?

Now, however, British styles of football were spreading more and more around the world. Yes, game types, because there were different game variants and no clear separation into football and rugby/football. Konrad Koch also brought rugby, not football, to Germany, contrary to countless other stories and a cinema film. In any case, it was not so much the locals as British traders and travellers who brought the game to the world in the last third of the 19th century.

And as in Great Britain, first local, then regional and finally national associations were formed. The DFB, for example, was founded in 1900.

On 1 May 1904, the very first international match on the European continent was scheduled: Belgium against France. 20 days later, FIFA was founded by a Dutch and a French official, Hirschman and Guérin, so that future international matches could be organised centrally. 

And now how did FIFA get into the IFAB?

Back to Aberystwyth, to 1912. The annual general assembly is about to take place, which at that time was still regularly held in the summer. It is 8 June 1912 and the Secretary of the Football Association of Wales is picking apart a letter. It is a letter from FIFA.

„The Secretary read a letter he had received from the Secretary of the ‚Federation Internationale de Football Association‘, whereby a wish was expressed that the Board would invite a member of the Federation to sit on the Board.

FIFA has been in existence for 12 years and most countries have adopted the British Laws of the Game for the most part. So it would be only fair if all these countries had a voice in the IFAB.

The IFAB…

The matter was carefully considered, and an interesting debate took place, all representatives taking part therein.

For the British representatives, however, it was not too clear. Should other countries really be telling them, the inventors of the modern game of football, what to do?! Phew.

And so…

It was unanimously decided that the time is not ripe to invite a delegate to attend the Board Meetings, and the Secretary was requested to write a suitable letter to the Federation.“

The time is not yet ripe, he said. Wow. Let me translate it into understandable words:

„Dear FIFA, it is nice that our football game is so popular with you. But at the moment you are not as set and orderly as we would like. This is not a rejection in principle. We just want to wait and see how you develop. If you develop in our sense, then a cooperation is quite conceivable.“

FIFA becomes a member of the IFAB

It didn’t take quite that long, however, as correspondence only began in response to the IFAB’s rejection. So much so that a first extraordinary meeting was called before the regular next general assembly. It took place on 22 February 1913 in Wrexham, North Wales.

Once again there was a discussion („A lengthy and interesting discussion took place„), at the end of which the English FA made a proposal: two FIFA representatives would be allowed to attend the IFAB meeting in future. However, no agreement was reached and the extraordinary meeting was adjourned. Until this meeting on 4 April 1913 in London, there was also a lot of correspondence back and forth between the five associations: the English proposal was accepted and the statutes of the IFAB were amended at the London meeting.

At the next regular general assembly on 14 June 1913 in Portrush, Northern Ireland, Baron de Laveleye and D. B. Woolfall, the first two FIFA representatives attended the meeting. 

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