Following the establishment of the Football Association in 1863, the Scottish Football Association in 1873, the Football Association of Wales in 1876 and the Irish Football Association in 1880, The International FA Board was set up in 1886 to agree a common set of Laws at a time when there were some variations in the four countries.

Notice, incidentally, that football has Laws and not rules like all other sports.

The International FA Board is still a very important part of the football scene and continues to act responsibly and wisely as the guardian of the Laws of the Game.

FIFA was founded in 1904 in the Rue Saint Honoré, Paris. The seven founder members were all European since that was where football was developing at the time

       France – Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques (USFSA)

       Belgium – Union Belge des Sociétés de Sports (UBSSA)

       Denmark – Dansk Boldspil Union (DBU)

       Netherlands – Nederlandsche Voetbal Bond (NVB)

       Spain – Madrid Football Club

       Sweden – Svenska Bollspells Förbundet (SBF)

       Switzerland – Association Suisse de Football (ASF)

The agreed official languages of FIFA therefore were the four main European languages – English, French, German and Spanish. Although the British Associations initially refused to join, FIFA accepted the existing Laws and the authority of the IFAB, with English as the definitive language for the Laws.

The four British associations joined FIFA in 1905 and FIFA eventually joined the IFAB in 1913, initially as a junior partner, but this of course has changed over the years.

I believe that, as we now enter the second decade of the 21st century, FIFA should consider increasing the number of official languages it uses.

Today German speakers are very limited but Arabic is spoken in many of FIFA’s member associations. Similarly, considering the size and population of China, Mandarin must be recognised as a major world language as should Russian.

An Arabic version of the FIFA website is now available and this is a big step forward however the inclusion of Mandarin and Russian this would extend the concept even further.

The time has now come for FIFA to recognise the main Asian languages as official FIFA languages. English will always remain the definitive language for the Laws of the Game but FIFA should widen its language base.

Europe, South America, Central America, Oceania and Africa are mostly covered by the present four official FIFA languages but Asia would greatly benefit from the addition of Arabic, Mandarin and Russian language versions of the Laws of the Game and new FIFA teaching materials to aid the development of football.

It was once ’For the Good of the Game,’now it is ’For the Game. For the World.’

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