When I joined FIFA in 1975 as its development officer, our organisation employed 11 people who operated out of an old Zurich villa and generated a modest income. Football was a pastime for many but by far not the power it has become ever since.
No matter what some critics say, FIFA has substantially contributed to the improvement of lives around the world over the last three decades. Since I joined in the seventies, the organisation’s income increased enormously, and during my tenure as FIFA President, it grew exponentially by a factor of 16: we went from $257 million in the period of 1995-1998 to $4.189 billion after the South African World Cup, the period 2007-2010. What many detractors decried as a looming catastrophe – thus questioning the ability of Africans to organise such a huge event – turned out to be the most successful World Cup of all time – and for all participants.