Congresses that left their mark on FIFA and football

The 2003 FIFA Congress in Doha was not only the first ever to be held in the Middle East but it was also the first to be attended by every member association, at that time numbering 204. The most important item on the agenda was the ratification of the new Statutes, which, as the new constitution of FIFA, were due to take effect on 1 January 2004.

A group of specialists entrusted by the Executive Committee with revising the Statutes in autumn 2002 presented the revised version to the Congress. The aim had not been to rewrite the Statutes completely but rather to adapt the existing provisions to meet the needs of a constantly changing sporting and social environment.

Among the major innovations were: the rewording of FIFA's objectives to emphasise its mission, namely to improve the game of football constantly and promote it globally, establishing a Code of Ethics and precisely defining the role, duties and responsibilities of the President compared to those of the Executive Committee and the Secretary General.

In addition, the election of the President was rescheduled to take place in the year after the FIFA World Cup™. Furthermore, the provisions for eligibility to play for national teams were relaxed, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) was recognised and the need for harmonising the international match calendar was laid down in a separate article.

The new Statutes were unanimously ratified by the associations of FIFA.