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FIFA attempts to raise club standards worldwide

Professional soccer clubs worldwide will have to meet minimum standards in stadium safety, the treatment of fans and youth football development to be admitted into certain competitions, soccer’s governing body FIFA said on Thursday.

Former FIFA vice-president Chung Mong-joon of South Korea poses for the media as he attends a news conference to formally launch his bid to become president of world soccer's governing body in Paris, France, August 17, 2015
Former FIFA vice-president Chung Mong-joon of South Korea poses for the media as he attends a news conference to formally launch his bid to become president of world soccer’s governing body in Paris, France, August 17, 2015

They will also have to agree to be more transparent about their owners and allow independent auditing of their finances, FIFA said in a statement.

Facilities in many parts of the world are a far cry from the shiny, state-of-the-arts stadiums where the world’s top clubs play their football.

Even in Europe, smaller clubs often play matches in run-down arena and struggle to pay their players on time. Former Brazil forward Ronaldo once said that goats were used to trim the grass at the club where he began his career.

FIFA said it would create a global club licensing framework by the end of next year to set “minimum standards” which would then be implemented by the continental confederations, taking into account local conditions.

“Clubs then need to meet these principles to be eligible for certain competitions, adhering to international statutes, investing in training facilities and agreeing to the independent auditing of finances and greater transparency of ownership,” said FIFA.

“Stronger clubs mean a stronger foundation for global football,” added FIFA’s head of development Thierry Regenass. “Club licensing is… a crucial part of raising professional standards.”

The new system would require clubs to have a youth development program, “safe, comfortable” stadiums and qualified coaches and medical staff, FIFA said.