The 66th FIFA Congress kicked off a new era for FIFA and global football with the announcement of a “step change” in FIFA’s investment in football development, new FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura, progress on the implementation of the reforms, and the FIFA Legends programme.

FIFA Forward: a new, tailor-made development programme
To build on his manifesto pledges, FIFA President Gianni Infantino presented “FIFA Forward”, a complete overhaul of FIFA’s football development programmes. FIFA Forward provides 360-degree, tailor-made support for football development in each of FIFA’s member associations and the six confederations. FIFA will significantly increase its investment to USD 5 million for each member association per four-year cycle for football projects and support for running costs. The use of funds will be monitored closely through enhanced compliance, accountability and transparency, with all member associations required to publish independent audits of their finances as per the new “FIFA Forward” regulations.

UN official Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura appointed FIFA Secretary General

President Infantino announced the appointment by the FIFA Council of Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura (Senegal) as FIFA’s new secretary general, the first woman and African to hold this post. Ms Samoura is a 21-year veteran of United Nations programmes who is currently the UN’s Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Nigeria. As required under FIFA’s statutes, Ms Samoura will undergo an eligibility check by the independent Review Committee, per article 37 of the FIFA Statutes. Ms Samoura will assume the role of secretary general before mid-June.

"Fatma is a woman with international experience and vision who has worked on some of the most challenging issues of our time,” said President Infantino. “She has a proven ability to build and lead teams, and improve the way organisations perform. Importantly for FIFA, she also understands that transparency and accountability are at the heart of any well-run and responsible organisation."

Reforms in action
FIFA updated its member associations on the progress in the implementation of the reform process since new measures were approved in February. Reforms are now operational within FIFA’s structures: 

·       Enhanced compliance for revenue and spending

·       Eligibility checks for new members of committees and senior positions

·       Publication of individual compensation of senior FIFA officials

·       Appointment of first independent members on key committees

The president announced the creation of a women’s football division in the FIFA administration to further support the promotion and development of women’s football.

Regular “football summits” for member associations will start in the third quarter of 2016, with inter-confederation conferences involving about 20 associations designed to address important regional topics in football.

FIFA Legends programme
Clarence Seedorf and Sun Wen presented the “FIFA Legends programme” which will support the organisation’s goal of giving a stronger voice to people directly involved in football. The FIFA Legends Team is designed to bring together former top players from the men’s and women’s game to promote and support football and its wider mission around the world, and to give something back to the game.

The Legends will focus on three main activities:

·       The FIFA Legends on Tour – Four two-day tours will take place in the first year, including additional events from grassroots clinics to fundraising and fan engagement.

·       The FIFA Legends Forum – think-tank sessions as started yesterday in Mexico will create a platform to hear their views on current football affairs. These views will be shared with top decision-makers, authorities and policy committees in football.

·       The FIFA Legends Initiatives – Members of the Legends Team will act as ambassadors in key areas such as event promotion, football development, women’s football, diversity, health and sustainability projects. 

Kosovo and Gibraltar admitted as FIFA members
The FIFA Congress followed the recommendation of the FIFA Council and confirmed the admission of Kosovo (141 "yes" to 23 "no" of valid votes cast) and Gibraltar (172 "yes" to 12 "no" of valid votes cast) as the 210th and 211th FIFA members. Both associations will be entitled to take part in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, with UEFA tasked to look into the best way to integrate Kosovo and Gibraltar in the preliminary competition.

Election of new FIFA committee members:

·       Governance Committee: Luís Miguel Poiares Maduro (Portugal) has been elected as Chairman and Mukul Mudgal (India) as Deputy Chairman. Both will also head the independent Review Committee. Luis Felipe Cantuarias Salaverry (Peru) was elected as a member of this Committee.

·       Disciplinary Committee: John Simmonds (Jamaica), Leonardo Carlos Stagg Peña (Ecuador) and Carlos Manuel Terán Valero (Venezuela) have been elected as members.

·       Ethics Committee: Akihiro Hara (Japan), Oscar Vicente Scavone Rivas (Paraquay) and Anin Yeboah (Ghana) have been elected as members in the Adjudicatory Chamber.

·       Audit & Compliance: Enrique Bonilla (Mexico) and Jorge del Solar Bueno (Bolivia) have been elected as new members.

·       The Congress authorised the Council to appoint office holders for the remaining vacant positions within the judicial bodies, the Audit & Compliance Committee and the Governance Committee until the 67th FIFA Congress, and to dismiss any office holder of these committees until the 67th FIFA Congress.

Ahead of the FIFA Congress, the Council also appointed the following Committee members, including former international top players Luis Figo, Mia Hamm and Theodoros Zagorakis:

·       Independent members:

o   Finance Committee: Vanessa Ames Wittman (USA); Theodoros Zagorakis (Greece)

o   Development Committee: Deputy Chairman Luis Figo (Portugal); Deputy Chairwoman Mia Hamm (USA)

·       Football Stakeholders Committee:

o   Chairman Ramón Jesurún (Colombia)

o   Deputy Chairman: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (Germany)

o   Deputy Chairman: Didier Drogba (Côte d’Ivoire / TBC)

Other decisions:

·       Ahead of the Congress, the FIFA Council lifted the suspension of the Football Association of Indonesia imposed in May 2015.

·       The Congress confirmed the suspensions of Benin and Kuwait, and asked the FIFA Council to lift these suspensions as soon as the necessary requirements are fulfilled.

·       The Congress extended the mandate of the FIFA Monitoring Committee Israel-Palestine, which was set up by the 65th FIFA Congress in 2015. Chaired by Tokyo Sexwale, the committee reported progress in facilitating the free movement of Palestinian people and goods connected with football. The FIFA President announced that he would travel to Palestine and Israel to help resolve the outstanding issue of five clubs playing in the disputed area that are affiliated to the Israel Football Association.