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, FIFA is accountable for the organization and 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 FIFA, 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.
FIFA 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. FIFA 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 FIFA 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.