This week marks four years since Gianni Infantino was elected to the presidency of a FIFA that had been embroiled in turmoil at the extraordinary congress that took place in Zurich.

As a candidate for the FIFA presidency, Infantino brought with him a strategy – FIFA 2.0 – which was a roadmap for rebuilding the organisation by strengthening governance and transparency, driving innovation, participation and recognising the social impact of the game.

Whilst not everything has run completely to plan following his election in 2016, the overall success of these efforts was confirmed last summer in Paris at the annual FIFA congress, where Infantino ran unopposed for re-election to wide acclaim, with FIFA rejuvenated – the landmark success of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup which opened the following day the embodiment of this refocused organisation.

The structural reforms of FIFA and the wider footballing landscape have been key to changing perceptions, with a focus on integrity and transparency. The creation of an internal compliance division, with unrestricted authority to investigate any unit within FIFA, brings full accountability and transparency to the financial situation of FIFA and its senior management and committees. Furthermore, the establishment of executive summits and the involvement of experts from outside the traditional football family to committees has all helped to restore confidence in football’s governing body.

Infantino Confederations Cup

This confidence and refreshed image have impacted positively on FIFA’s finances, with record results in terms of revenues, assets and reserves at the end of the 2018 cycle. This financial stability has underpinned a vast increase in the money being invested back into the game. The creation of the FIFA Forward development programme has overseen a vast rise in the money for development received by the football community, well ahead of growth in overall revenues and reconfirming its importance in FIFA’s vision. Built on the principles of more investment, more impact and more oversight, approximately $1.1bn was allocated by the FIFA Forward to the 211 member associations (MA) and confederations, which represents a quadrupling compared to the previous period, and with a view to increase this in the new cycle by 60%.

This investment in the game and its facilities across the world is helping to achieve the other goals laid out by President Infantino regarding football’s social impact, with increased participation globally from 45% to 60% of the world population and specifically achieving a doubling of the number of female players by 2026, and using interaction with the game to help deliver on other goals, such as education.

These initiatives are also reflected in the expansion and revamping of tournaments, following the incredible success of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. The men’s edition will expand to a 48-team competition in 2026, giving many more MAs a genuine chance to participate on the global stage, a new FIFA Club World Cup will feature 24 clubs and will be played every four years, and there are now three standalone FIFA competitions for eFootball – the eWorld Cup, eNations Cup and eClub World Cup. In addition, women’s football continues to progress, spearheaded by a 32-team FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023.

Infantino Women's Football

There is no doubt that the previous four years have seen seismic changes and improvements in the disposition of world football, many of which would not have seemed possible at the time of the extraordinary congress in 2016.

Yet the FIFA 2.0 roadmap has been implemented, and there is a renewed assurance at the top of world football which can only be good for the game. With the governance framework in place allowing FIFA to focus progressively more of its efforts and resources on the development of the game across the globe, the future of the game looks brighter than it has for some time.

As with any project, adaptations to the plans based on learnings from the last four years are required – but if they continue to improve the landscape of the world’s favourite sport as has been the case, the footballing world can continue to look forward to a FIFA that provides the necessary leadership to face all the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.


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