Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Thu 9 August 2007

All The Presidential Men (Part 1)

This new series looks at the people who, over the past 103 years, have sat at the top of the tree in the world governing body of Football. This is the story of FIFA's Presidents from 1904 to the present day.

Part 1: In the beginning
Ever since the sport of Football began in earnest back in 1862 with the creation of the English Football Association, international competition was always uppermost in the minds of those countries that played the game.

In 1900, a Football competition was held in the Paris Olympic Games and by the 1920's it had come to be looked upon as a world championship of sorts. Yet back in 1904, a group of visionaries decided that an official world championship needed to be organised by the federations that managed the sport in each competing country, rather than the IOC.

So it was that Robert Guerin, a Frenchman who wrote for the newspaper 'Le Matin' and a secretary involved with the administration of French football invited senior figures from France, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden to create FIFA - the federation of international football federations.

Guerin himself was elected President of the seven-nation governing body and one of his first tasks was to expand FIFA's membership to include the so-far absent football-playing countries around the world - particularly those from Great Britain where the laws of the game had first been laid down.

Within a year, England had joined along with Austria, Germany, Hungary and Italy. Scotland, Wales and Ireland followed soon after and with talk of an international competition due to take place in 1906, it seemed everything in the FIFA garden was looking pleasantly rosy.

Reality suggested it was anything but. The competition in Switzerland was a failure, the French governing body was divided and some of FIFA's member countries were doubtful about their role in the administration of the sport.

The enthusiasm with which Guerin gave FIFA such a great start was now starting to disappear as problems accumulated. Guerin opted to lessen his involvement with Football and as a result his administrative duties were handed over more and more often to Vice-President Victor Schneider.

The time had therefore come to find a new President, and with Schneider taking temporary charge, FIFA looked to its pater familias, England, for Guerin's successor. Enter Daniel Burley Woolfall to take up the baton…

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