In recent times, FIFA has taken its rule about national governments not being involved in football matters seriously. Some countries have either been banned or threatened to be banned by FIFA due to government intervention in football matters. This article seeks to discuss FIFA’s rule as regards non-intervention by national government.

FIFA, being an independent body does not accept the intervention of government in football related matters. Member associations of FIFA are bound by the FIFA statutes which govern FIFA as an institution, the member associations, as well bodies under FIFA’s control. FIFA, as an independent body frowns at government intervention, as stated in Article 17 of the FIFA statutes that:
Each member shall manage its affairs independently and with no influence from third parties.

The term “third parties” can be said to involve political interference in football, as well as intervention by national government in football affairs. FIFA’s dissatisfaction can be seen in how erring nations have been affected by decisions made by the FIFA executive committee. For example:
– In 2014, Nigeria was banned from all international football activities due to government intervention in its football federation when a court order which compelled the Sports Minister to appoint a civil service member to run the NFF.
– On the 16th of October 2015, the Kuwait Football Association (KFA) was suspended with immediate effect due to the decision of the FIFA Executive Committee as regard the need for changes being made to the Sports law of Kuwait.
– In 2017, Mali’s Football Association (FEMAFOOT) was been suspended by FIFA due to government interference in football matters.

Under the FIFA Statutes, the Court of Arbitration for Sports has the power to resolve football disputes. Article 66(1) of the statute, stated that:
“FIFA recognizes the Independent Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) with headquarter in Lausanne (Switzerland) to resolve dispute between FIFA, members, confederations, Leagues, clubs, players, officials, intermediaries and licensed match agents”

It must be noted however, that the Court of Arbitration of Sports primarily applies various regulations of FIFA, and additionally Swiss law, as stated by Article 66(2) of the Statute that:
“The provisions of the CAS Code of Sports-related Arbitration shall apply to the proceedings. CAS shall primarily apply the various regulations of FIFA and, additionally, Swiss law.”

In conclusion, government intervention in football is not accepted by FIFA under any circumstance due to the fact that FIFA sees its members as independent associations, free from the control of governments. Although, in third-world countries, this may not be so due to the fact that most of the funds they receive are from the government, thus making them hugely reliant on the government.

Ayomide ‘Toba Eribake is a 400 level student of the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos. He is a Sports Law enthusiast, and also has interests in Human Rights, ADR. He also loves researching and reading various subjects of interest.

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