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What is FIFA?

By Y. Chen
Updated May 23, 2024
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FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) is the international governing association of the sport of football, known as soccer in the United States. In fact, it is the largest sporting governing body in the world. Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, this organization is accountable for management of the major international football tournaments, the most notable being the FIFA World Cup™. The World Cup™, held every four years, is a competition between men's teams representing various nations. Over 200 associations are members of the organization, making it the world's second largest international association, with the United Nations being the largest.

The need for a single association to oversee the worldwide game prompted the founding of FIFA in Paris on 21 May 1904. Original membership belonged to seven European countries, though within several years membership began to expand beyond the European continent. The first non-European country to join was South Africa, in 1909, followed by Argentina, Chile, and the United States in subsequent years. Following the success of the competitions and the rising popularity of football, FIFA began seriously contemplating the staging of its own regular World Championship. The first World Cup was held in Uruguay in 1930. The next World Cup was held thereafter in Italy in 1934.

This organization not only operates at the international level, but it also has confederations governing the game in the different continents and regions of the world. Most national federations qualify their teams for entry into FIFA competitions by claiming membership to both FIFA and their region's confederation.

In addition to its management of the World Cup and involvement in Olympic competitions, FIFA also manages World Championships for players at the under-17 and under-20 levels. It has also introduced the Confederations Cup, a competition held every four years for the champions from each confederation along with the World hosts and World Cup Winners. It also presides over World Cup tournaments geared specifically toward women, club competition, and modified forms of football including beach football and futsal or indoor football.

The intellectual property value, including merchandising profits, of this association has become very valuable. Football simulation games for the personal computer and other game consoles are released annually, with additional versions sporting World Cup branding to correspond with the tournaments.

Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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Discussion Comments

By kilorenz — On Jun 18, 2010

@anon44353 – This is a difficult question to answer. He may well be the most well known soccer player ever because of his high profile celebrity status. However, he is quite disliked by a number of soccer lovers, especially English fans, for the very same reason. Many soccer fans view him as a showboating celebrity rather than a true soccer player, especially since he joined the American team, the Los Angeles Galaxy. The fact that he has something of a role as a big budget movie actor hasn’t helped dispel this image either. Much of the soccer world is split on its opinion of him. The fact is however, that he is one of the most celebrated and accomplished players in soccer history, and the numbers don’t lie. Other players that contend for the title of “most popular soccer player” are Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, and Lionel Messi.

By anon44353 — On Sep 07, 2009

Is David Beckham the most popular soccer player?

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