Questions regarding FIFA who is the international governing body of association football, futsal and beach soccer.

FIFA, in French the Federation Internationale de Football Association, is the international governing body for the sport of association football (known in the U.S. as "soccer" to differentiate from the more popular American gridiron football), and the related sports of futsal (a contraction of the Spanish futbol de salo meaning "court football") and beach soccer. FIFA is responsible for setting and enforcing the game and team rules at top international levels of play in accordance with the internationally-recognized "Laws of Football", and overseeing its composite levels of administration.

FIFA is divided into 6 roughly continental "confederations", each of which oversees play between club and national teams within the confederation, and also oversees the member nations' governing bodies and the "premier leagues" of club teams within each individual member nations where they exist (such leagues are common in UEFA and CONMEBOL, and also exist in certain larger countries of other confederations such as the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Australia). FIFA recognizes many territorial possessions, and the four UK member countries of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as being separate nations from their U.N. "administering nations", and very few UN-recognized sovereign states aren't FIFA members; as such, FIFA has more member states (209) than the UN (193).

The six confederations are:

  • UEFA - United European Football Association; encompasses all of continental Europe, Great Britain, Ireland, Russia and Israel.
  • AFC - Asian Football Confederation; composed of member nations from the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East excluding Egypt, former Islamic Soviet states including Afghanistan, the Indian subcontinent, China, Mongolia, Southeast Asia, Japan, Indonesia and Australia.
  • CAF - Confederation of African Football; includes all but two UN-recognized territories in the African continent (the two non-FIFA members being the disputed territories of Western Sahara and South Sudan).
  • CONCACAF - Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football; includes Canada, the United States, Mexico, Latin American states, Caribbean independent states and territorial possessions including the separately recognized territories of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, and three nations in South America (Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana).
  • CONMEBOL - Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol, the South American Football Confederation, consisting of all countries on the South American continent except for the three mentioned members of CONCACAF and the Falkland Islands.
  • OFC - Oceania Football Confederation, consisting of all island nations and territories of the Pacific Ocean except for previously-mentioned members of the AFC.

In addition to these, a seventh overlapping confederation of 22 Muslim countries from the AFC and CAF form the Union of Arab Football Associations, UAFA. FIFA recognizes these countries as belonging to their respective continental confederations, in which most do participate, but UAFA holds a number of tournaments among its own member nations as well as participating at the larger FIFA levels.

A variety of intraleague, interleague, interconfederate and international tournaments are held among FIFA members. Within a single member nation, a number of leagues of various "club teams" are sanctioned, typically ranked in a hierarchy with that nation's "Premiere" or "Division I" league being the top level of national competition. As mentioned, many larger countries have premiere leagues, including every member of CONMEBOL, most members of UEFA (the most well-followed being the English Premiere League, Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A, and German Bundesliga), the US and Canada (which contribute teams to Major League Soccer), Mexico (La Liga MX), and Austalia. In national systems that also have lower divisions, often a system of "promotion and relegation" is used, where a team consistently ranked at the top of a lower-division league is "promoted" to the next higher tier, replacing a team consistently ranking low in its current league. This system mitigates issues commonly seen in other professional sports leagues, where an established, exclusive top tier of member teams is maintained even as some of them remain uncompetitive for years or decades at a time with little incentive to improve.

Top-ranking club teams often participate in interleague play between other highly-ranked club teams within a confederation. This interleague play structure is typically known as the confederation's "Champion's League", with the UEFA Champions League tournament final being the most-watched sporting event in the world, eclipsing the NFL Super Bowl as of 2009. Winners and other top finishers at the confederation level are invited to play in the FIFA-sponsored Club World Cup.

Most FIFA member nations also select and train a single national team composed of the best players of that nationality (players from other countries can participate in club team play, but a player from the English Premiere league isn't necessarily eligible to play for England), and these teams compete at the confederation and global level. Confederation championships typically earn the winner a berth in the quadrennial FIFA World Cup, with other spots awarded to winners of the World Cup Qualifiers held in the year preceding the World Cup. The rules for the qualifiers vary between "groups" (roughly equating to confederations), typically depending on the number of member nations competing for a berth and the historical significance of that groups' member teams.

Once the 32 participating teams are decided, they are arranged into 8 groups of four teams, which play each of the other teams in the preliminary round. Teams are ranked based on a points system based on winning games, scoring goals, and shutting out opponents. The two top-ranked teams of each group then proceed to a single-elimination tree tournament, culminating in the World Cup Final between the two semifinalists. A similar tournament is held the next year for the Women's World Cup.

Usage guidance:

Mark questions with this tag if they are about FIFA and/or minor competitions (e.g, FIFA Club World Cup) played under its auspices. For questions about major competitions organised by FIFA, use more specific tags instead, e.g:

Questions must also be tagged with tag.

history | excerpt history