FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) was founded in 1904, in Paris, by representatives of sporting or football organizations of six European nations. The football associations of the UK were conspicuous by their absence: led as they were by the FA (Football Association [of England]), they arrogantly declared that there was no need for any international organizational body. Two years later though, with the new initiative faltering, the British Associations did join, taking up the leadership role when the Englishman Daniel Woolfall became the second of FIFA's presidents. Sport, as an expression of what Roland Robertson has called the third phase of globalization, was becoming increasingly internationalized. Football featured (in its amateur forms) in early Olympic Games, the British initially dominant. As the game grew in popularity around the world, Uruguay's calculated football triumphs in the Olympics challenged, and superseded, the performance and competitive levels of any purist or idealist model of amateurism. The British Associations withdrew from FIFA in 1926/8 in disputes over amateur status and Olympic eligibility.
FIFA's first World Cup in 1930 was both hosted and won by Uruguay, already double Olympic champions. A South American federation could by then claim to have been in operation for 14 years. By 1930, then, the power struggles and rivalry between Europe and South America were framing the worldwide development of the game. The foundation of other federations after World War Two stimulated the worldwide growth of football in new markets and for new or previously neglected constituencies, but simultaneously generated intensified worldwide rivalries in the politics of the game.
In this book, the history and underlying political dynamics characterizing the growth of FIFA and its relationships with global-regional federations and international associations provide a foundation and focus for: understanding the growth and development of what is wildly accepted as the world's most popular sport shedding light on the shifting politics of nationalism in the post-colonial period revealing opportunistic forms of personal aggrandizement shaping an increasingly media-influenced and globalizing world in which international sport was both a harbinger and an early reflection of these trends and forces.
Alan Tomlinson is Professor, Chelsea School, Faculty of Education and Sport, University of Brighton