FIFA moving legal department, over 100 jobs from Zurich to Florida
GENEVA (AP) — FIFA is moving more than 100 jobs from its Swiss headquarters to Florida, where a growing workforce is already working on organizing the 2026 World Cup.
FIFA informed staff on Tuesday that its entire legal department and the audit, compliance and risk management teams will move from Zurich to Coral Gables near Miami — a city whose status on the global soccer map is growing after Lionel Messi’s move to play in MLS for Inter Miami.
“The move is planned to be fully operational in August 2024,” FIFA told staff in an email seen by The Associated Press.
“The FIFA office is a permanent office that will share space initially with the (FIFA 2026 World Cup) team at the Coral Gables premises in Florida,” said the email attributed to secretary general Fatma Samoura, who is leaving the world governing body at the end of the year.
FIFA previously needed more staff based in the United States after making the organization of World Cups an in-house affair instead of relying on host nations to staff and run local organizing committees.
“This is in line with the global vision of an organization that has 211 member associations” FIFA said in a statement about Tuesday’s email, adding that its headquarters “remain in Zurich.”
The expanded 48-team men’s World Cup in 2026 will be hosted mostly in the U.S. with games also played in Canada and Mexico. FIFA President Gianni Infantino said last year in Qatar, where he moved to oversee preparations for the 2022 World Cup, that he expected to spend more time in the U.S. in the future.
The U.S. also will host the expanded 32-team Club World Cup tournament in June-July 2025. Real Madrid, Manchester City and Chelsea already qualified as recent European champions and Flamengo and Palmeiras will come from Brazil.
“Being physically closer to our colleagues at FIFA26 and FIFA Club World Cup 2025 in Miami and the U.S. will increase our collaboration,” the email to staff said.
FIFA’s decision to move its legal department still seemed surprising given that Switzerland is a hub for global sports law and hundreds of FIFA cases — including contract disputes, plus some disciplinary and ethics cases — are heard each year at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.
FIFA added that “we continue with our vision of ‘making football truly global’ and bringing us closer to our member associations.”
FIFA already opened a base in Paris in 2021 to be a liaison with member federations in Europe and Africa, and a regional office is being prepared in Singapore.
AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer