ZURICH, December 31, 2019 – It has been an exciting year. If I had to choose a title for it, it would be “The Year of Women” – because of everything that the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ meant for women’s football, but also thanks to the steps forward we took in terms of discussing equality, discrimination and the role of women in society.
This tremendous success of the Women’s World Cup – which attracted over 1 billion television viewers – triggered several proposals, some of which have already been implemented or have been approved. In addition, French Football Federation president Noël Le Graët proposed to play the FIFA Women’s World Cup every two years instead of four. It is an idea we should explore further together, especially as women’s football development remains a top priority for FIFA with an investment of USD 1bn planned for the next four years.
It was the year for transformation on the pitch, but also off it: for example, with women attending a football match in Iran for the first time in 40 years. It is one important step along a path on which there is much, much more to do.
In terms of men’s football, 2019 was a milestone year with the creation of the new FIFA Club World Cup – a far stronger and more inclusive tournament, fully redistributed for the development of professional football across the world.
We have also taken some important steps forward to better bsp;regulate the transfer system, to promote football development and to bring some much needed financial transparency. An economic sector worth over USD 7bn a year cannot be a free-for-all, ungoverned territory.
This is part of our focus on enhancing governance standards in the game and improving the overall image of football. For the first time ever, FIFA has positioned itself as a solid institutional partner for international organisations from all walks of life and especially in those areas where we really believe that football can have a positive social impact. So, for example, this year we have engaged in partnerships with the World Health Organisation, UNESCO, ASEAN, African Union, World Food Programme, the Council of Europe and European Parliament among others. These agreements reflect FIFA’s acknowledgement that it has a wider role in society, as well as a duty to uphold the highest standards of good governance. This year we further embraced transparency and committed to publishing every decision of our judicial bodies online. At the same time, we have also invested in the first concrete steps of the Football for Schools programme and launched the FIFA Guardians initiative to safeguard children.
But there is one chief reason why these achievements are significant: each of them represents an important step in a long journey that still lies ahead of us. Each of them is a building block of a brighter, fairer future for world football. I am honoured to have been elected to conduct this process over the course of the next four years and am already looking forward to seeing FIFA’s initiatives bear fruit in 2020.
Yours in football,