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History of Football's Oldest Governing Bodies: A Look at National Football Associations

Dive deep into the history of National Football Associations, the guardians of football! Explore their role in shaping the game and promoting fair play.

Last updated: 16.05.2024
National Associations Of football (Images: The FA and KNVB)

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National associations of football, usually referred to as football federations, are bodies in charge of policing and directing the game of football (soccer) in a particular nation. These organizations seek to guarantee that football is played fairly and professionally in their respective countries. They are often connected to FIFA, the world's football regulatory body. All aspects of football associations, from amateur youth leagues to professional leagues and national teams, fall within the purview of each national association. They are in charge of regulating the registration of players and clubs, planning domestic competitions, and implementing laws and guidelines that guarantee everyone's safety and fair play.


National football organizations organize international events like the World Cup and Women's World Cup in close cooperation with FIFA. Moreover, they collaborate to create and put into action policies that support the expansion of football on a global scale, such as programs to boost participation, enhance coaching standards, and advance diversity and inclusion in the sport. The Football Association in England, the Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio in Italy, the Deutscher Fußball-Bund in Germany, and the United States Soccer Federation in the United States are a few examples of national football associations. Each of these organizations is crucial to promoting and governing football in its home nation, and thanks to their work, football is now one of the most popular sports in the world.



According to the dates of their creation, the following are some of the oldest football associations in the world:

  • The Football Association (The FA) - England (1863)
  • Scottish Football Association (SFA) - Scotland (1873)
  • Football Association of Wales (FAW) - Wales (1876)
  • Irish Football Association (IFA) - Northern Ireland (1880)
  • Danish Football Association (DBU) - Denmark (1889)
  • Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) - Netherlands (1889)
  • Royal Belgian Football Association (RBFA) - Belgium (1895)
  • Swedish Football Association (SvFF) - Sweden (1904)
  • Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) - Switzerland (1904)
  • Norwegian Football Association (NFF) - Norway (1902)

These federations were crucial to the early growth of football and contributed to the creation of the guidelines that have now become accepted practices in the game. They also assisted in setting up some of the first international games and contests for football, which helped the sport spread and gain popularity around the world.

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