The Presidents of FIFA

Over the years, the presidents of FIFA have served terms of different lengths. The most recent president took the job in 2016, and is the 9th person to hold the title.
The Presidents of FIFA

Last update: 30 June, 2020

Since its creation in 1904, there have been nine official presidents of FIFA, the ultimate international soccer authority. It’s also had some interim presidents at different points in its history. Today, we’re going to tell you about these people and their role in FIFA’s development.

A list of all the presidents of FIFA

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA, was created in May of 1904. The FIFA headquarters are located in Zurich, Switzerland. The association has various responsibilities, from creating and modifying the rules that govern the sport, to organizing different championships in a variety of categories. It also brings together six different soccer confederations.

Its board of directors has a president, six vice-presidents – one for each confederation – a general secretary, and nearly 30 members. Over the course of its history, FIFA has had nine official presidents. They are:

1. Presidents of FIFA: Robert Guérin (1904-1906)

Born in France in 1876, Guérin was a reporter for Le Matin and secretary of the soccer committee. He was also a trainer for the French National soccer team in the early years of the last century and served as a referee. As if all of that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, this first FIFA president founded the Tour de France.

2. Daniel Burley Woolfall (1906-1918)

Woolfall was the director of the English Football Association and was the first to propose implementing a set of international soccer regulations. In his role as the second president of FIFA, he also established the rules of play according to the English model. He also helped craft the regulations that governed international matches.

An old photo of Daniel Burley Woolfall, one of the presidents of FIFA.
Image credit: FIFA

Woolfall was a key player in organizing the 1908 Olympic Games in London. He also incorporated the first non-European members of FIFA, including Argentina, Chile, the United States, and South Africa. When World War I broke out, his term was interrupted.

3. Jules Rimet (1920-1954)

Rimet served first as an interim president, and then became the third president of FIFA. His term lasted 33 consecutive years, which is the longest of any president in FIFA’s historyRimet was born in France and worked as a lawyer, referee, and athletic director. He was also president of the French Football Association and the Red Star Football Club.

A photo of Jules Rimet giving a trophy.
Jules Rimet (far left) awards the trophy that bears his name. Image credits: FIFA.

Rimet figures prominently in international soccer history as the creator of the World Cup, with its rotational host country system. He helped define the nature of the tournament, its qualifying rounds, and its frequency. Many believe that this was an important step to popularizing soccer on an international level.

4. Presidents of FIFA: Rodolphe Seeldrayers (1954-1955)

This Belgian president of FIFA was the national soccer director in his country and was an active member of the official Belgian sports association. His term was very short because he passed away only a year after taking office.

5. Arthur Drewry (1955-1961)

Arthur Drewry, from the UK, served as the interim president for a few months before he became the fifth FIFA president. He also held the highest position available at the Football Association (FA) and the Grimbsy Town team.

A photo of Arthur Drewry.
Image credit: FIFA

6. Stanley Rous (1961-1974)

Another British president of FIFA, Rous was a prominent referee and director. After serving in the First World War, he taught athletics at a school for boys. He also played as a goalie.

An image of Sir Stanley Rous.

During his years as FIFA president, he started airing the World Cup on TV to bring more money to the federation. He brought advertising to the games (starting at the 1966 World Cup in English) and encouraged South African participation in official tournaments.

7. Presidents of FIFA: Joao Havelange (1974-1998)

Havelange’s term was impressively long, especially considering that by the time he became the president of FIFA, the term limit was 24 years. Born in Brazil to Belgian immigrants, Havelange studied law and also had an impressive athletic career in swimming and water polo. He even participated in the Olympics.

Joao Havelange
Image credit: FIFA

He was also president of the Fluminense Football Club, the Brazil Confederation of Sports. During his term as the president of FIFA, he was more business-minded than many of his predecessors. He pushed to get more advertising money and helped professionalize soccer all over the world.

8. Joseph Blatter (1998-2015)

This Swiss national is one of the most famous FIFA presidents. That could be because he was the most recent to hold the title, or because of the corruption scandal that led to his suspension. Blatter held a series of public relations positions, was the secretary of the Hockey Federation and helped organize two Olympic Games after he joined the International Olympic Committee in 1999.

A photo of Joseph Blatter.

He was re-elected as FIFA president four times, but after the FIFA corruption scandal, he and Michel Platini were banned from participating in any soccer-related activity.

9. Gianni Infantino (2016-present)

The 9th FIFA president is a Swiss-Italian lawyer who was the secretary of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) from 2009 to 2016. Infantino’s training as a lawyer led him to focus on the legal aspects of UEFA. His good performance at UEFA led to his ascension to the most important position in soccer worldwide.

Lastly, we can’t forget the three other interim presidents of FIFA: Cornelis Hirschmann (1918-1920), Ernst Thommen (1961), and Issa Hayatou (2015-2016).

In conclusion, FIFA has come a long way from its beginnings at the end of the 19th century. It’ll be interesting to see what the future will bring for this fascinating organization.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.