The IFAB from 1886 to 1914

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“1897 adjourned, on 20th June 1898 adopted). Players selected for international matches are directly subject to the jurisdiction of the association that selected them (20th June 1898). The accommodation of the association representatives at international matches was discussed. The outcome of the dis…”

This blogpost is about its development until the First World War. The minutes of the individual meetings are linked at the end of the article.

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The Statutes of the IFAB

  1. Until 1893 the union of the national associations from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales called itself International Board. In the meeting on 17th July 1893 this board adopted its constitution:
  2. The board is called the International Football Association Board. The four associations, namely the Scottish Football Association (SFA), the English Football Association (FA), the Walloon Association of Football (WAF) and the Irish Football Association (IFA), each send two representatives to the meetings. Supplement on 4th April 1913: Two FIFA representatives were added to the board.
  3. The board shall discuss and decide on rule changes and, at the request of the associations and national general meetings, matters relating to association football in its international relations.
  4. Suggestions and amendments concerning the regulations must be received by 1st February each year and will be printed and distributed for the national general meetings on 1st March. These two dates have been postponed twice, namely to 1st April and 20th April (June 14, 1897) and then to 1st April and 8th April (June 9, 1906).
  5. The board meets on the third Monday in June of each year, the invitation is sent by the association that organizes the meeting.  Also this date was changed several times, namely to the second Saturday in June of a year (June 15, 1903). In the meeting of 19th June 1899 it was added that one of the representatives of the organizing association is the secretary of the IFAB meeting.
  6. The secretary shall record the complete minutes in the minute book and hand the book over to the next organizing association before 1st June of the following year.
  7. Three of the four national associations must be present for business to be conducted. This number was increased in 1913 by the addition of FIFA to four out of five associations (4 April 1913).
  8. Changes to the laws of the game may only be adopted at the meetings of the panel in June and only if it is unanimous. Other decisions require a three-quarters majority. Also here: With the addition of FIFA, it was increased to a four-fifths majority (4th April 1913); the majority for rule changes had already been reduced to a three-fourths majority (12th June 1910).
  9. Special meetings shall be convened by the association, which shall invite the general meeting on a regular basis. These special meetings must be held no later than 28 days after receipt of the motion and 21 days before the motion.
  10. The decisions of the IFAB Executive Committee are binding for all associations. Changes to the rules of the game are valid if they are accepted by the national associations. Since 1913 all decisions were immediately binding for all members (April 4, 1913).

Resolutions on international games

  • For a player born abroad, the nationality of his or her father is decisive (June 1, 1887; June 18, 1894, and June 17, 1895 affirmed).
  • The home club makes sure that the field is not used for anything else (18th June 1894).
  • The home club will give the away club 100 tickets for the covered area, seven days before the game (June 18, 1894).
  • Each national association shall name three referees by 1st April who are eligible for international matches. The home association will then select the referee from this list (14th June 1897).
  • On the question of the residence of players eligible for international matches, it was decided that no regulatory measures would be taken ((1897 adjourned, on 20th June 1898 adopted).
  • Players selected for international matches are directly subject to the jurisdiction of the association that selected them (20th June 1898).
  • The accommodation of the association representatives at international matches was discussed. The outcome of the discussions was not recorded in the minutes (20th June 1898).
  • For disputes, a court case is the last resort, which may only be initiated with the consent of the respective association (June 19, 1899).
  • It was rejected that any association could select foreign players for international matches if they played for a club in their country (18th June 1900).
  • An international match may not begin later than 3.30 pm, except by mutual agreement between the relevant associations (8th June 1907).
  • If a player has participated in an international match without qualifying, he/she may no longer participate in an international match without satisfactory explanation (June 8, 1912).

Decisions on the rule changes

For the rule changes themselves, see the entries in the individual rules. For an overview of the rules, see here.

  • Field markings (13th June 1892). [All markings on the field that are still valid today have been introduced since 1892. Starting from this year in each set of rules also a sketch with the playground and all markings was printed.]
  • The explicit prohibition of hacking is removed from the rules, as everyone was aware of the prohibition (June 14, 1897).
  • Many rules of the game were reformed in 1897 in the joint discussion, but not necessarily changed in content (June 14, 1897).
  • Rule decisions of the IFAB are supplemented in the rulebook at the end of each rule (June 15, 1903).
  • The ball used in the match is the property of the club on whose floor the match is played and must be returned to the referee at the end of the match. This decision was necessary in order to increase the number of hunting-like scenes after matches in order to take the ball as a trophy (14th June 1913).

Decisions regarding professional football matches or football players

  • In England, professionalism in football was allowed from 1885, the remaining three national associations followed in the next few years.
  • Replacements and transfers of professional footballers may only be made by the association with which a player is registered (18th June 1894, confirmed 1st November 1895).
  • Registrations as professional players are binding (June 18, 1894, retroactively effective June 13, 1893).
  • Registrations of players through the national associations are obligatory in other national associations (November 1, 1895).
  • A player who is registered with a national association may only be approached by a club after the obligation has expired (12th June 1910). This decision was supported in the following year: A professional footballer may not enter into any negotiations or commitments with other clubs of his or her own association or with other associations until his or her existing commitment has ended and may not be approached (10th June 1911).
  • Longer back and forth was caused by the problem that the four professional leagues ended or started at different times. In Scotland and Ireland the season ended on 31th May, in England and Wales on 30th April. So it was decided that FA and WAF could register a player under contract in Scotland or Ireland in their association as early as May and that they would be contacted in May. (18th June 1894, came into force retroactively to 1st May 1894). Later Scotland let its season end on 15th May of a year (1904/05 to 1906/07), then also on 30th April (from 1907/08).

Decisions about and with the national associations

  • The member associations acknowledge the suspensions of clubs and players (10th June 1893, 1st November 1895).
  • All cases of misconduct (players, clubs, officials) in connection with a match may be dealt with by the association under whose jurisdiction the match took place. However, any other national association may adopt this case law (11th June 1904).
  • The IFAB assured IFA loyalty and support through games (entrance fees!) during the „troubled times“. This meant the debates due to the Home Rule movement in Ireland (8th June 1912).
  • The IFAB tried to suppress coupon football betting („ready money football coupon betting“) after the number of bets and corruption had increased since the turn of the last century (February 22, 1913). The Ready Money Football Betting Bill was introduced in 1914 and developed after the war into the Ready Money Football Betting Act (1920), which was especially directed against combination bets.

Decisions on football and military

  • Soldiers purchased by the army (there was no regular conscription in the United Kingdom) may not play professional football again until twelve months after the purchase (8th June 1912).
  • In England it is forbidden to address soldiers or sailors while they are serving unless the commander is notified at least 14 days in advance. The FA asked the other three units in the United Kingdom to pass similar resolutions, but this was probably preceded by the start of the First World War (13th June 1914).


In 1902, the Dutch FA proposed to the IFAB the creation of a Europe-wide association to promote football, organise an international championship and ensure the uniformity of the rules of the game. This association was founded on 21th May 1904 in Paris and was called the Féderation Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA for short.

FIFA and IFAB initially existed side by side without any major points of contact, but then agreed on how to cooperate: FIFA agreed at its general meeting on 5th June 1911 in Dresden to send a representative to the IFAB meetings and announced this shortly afterwards. Too late, however, that this representative was already present at the IFAB meeting on 10th June 1911.

But also in 1912 no FIFA representative was present in the IFAB and in 1913 the IFAB discussed whether one or two representatives of the FIFA should be accepted. Two of each national association (of the United Kingdom) were present at the meetings. The decision was postponed until April 1913, when it was decided that in future two FIFA representatives could and should attend the IFAB meetings. The next IFAB meeting took place on 13th June 1914 at the Hotel Palais d’Orsay in Paris, just before the beginning of the Great War.

The minutes – A sourcebook

The meetings rotated until 1908 in the order England – Scotland – Wales – Ireland. In 1909 the meeting took place in Scotland, Ireland and in the following years the meeting took place twice in Ireland, twice in Wales, then once in Ireland and finally once in Paris.

For the minutes see the sourcebook of minutes on the website of The IFAB and scroll along the timeline.

  • June 2, 1886, London (England)
  • June 1, 1887, Edinburgh (Scotland)
  • June 25, 1888, Wrexham (Wales)
  • June 1, 1889, Belfast (Ireland)
  • June 2, 1890, London (England)
  • June 2, 1891, Glasgow (Scotland)
  • June 13, 1892, Llandudno (Wales)
  • June 10, 1893, Belfast (Ireland) and
  • July 17, 1893, Belfast (Ireland) (adjourned session) ((Session adjourned in June to 10 June 1893, but postponed to 17th July for reasons not mentioned in the minutes.))
  • June 18, 1894, Windermere (England)
  • June 17, 1895, Glasgow (Scotland) and
  • November 1, 1895, Glasgow (Scotland) (adjourned session)
  • June 15, 1896, Aberystwyth (Wales)
  • June 14, 1897, Rostrevor (Ireland)
  • June 20, 1898, London (England)
  • June 19, 1899, Glasgow (Scotland)
  • June 18, 1900, Llangollen (Wales)
  • June 17, 1901, Giant’s Causeway (Ireland)
  • June 16, 1902, Scarborough (England)
  • June 15, 1903, Ayr (Scotland)
  • June 11, 1904, Bangor (Wales)
  • June 17, 1905, Killarney (Ireland)
  • June 9, 1906, Bowness-on-Windermere (England)
  • June 8, 1907, Oban (Scotland)
  • June, 19 & 20, 1908, Llandrindod Wells (Wales)
  • June 12, 1909, Bundgarn (Scotland)
  • June 11, 1910, Brighton (Ireland)
  • June 10, 1911, Turnberry (Ireland)
  • June 8, 1912, Aberystwyth (Wales)
  • February 22, 1913, Wrexham (Wales) (adjourned session)
  • April 4, 1913, London (England) (adjourned, extra-ordinary session)
  • June 14, 1913, Portrush (Ireland)
  • June 13, 1914, Paris (France)
Kategorie: English


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