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Thursday, 28 February, 2002, 13:28 GMT
Q&A: The Fifa controversy
Fifa president Sepp Blatter
Sepp Blatter has been president of Fifa since 1998
With another row brewing over allegations of corruption at Fifa, BBC Sport's Harry Peart sets the records straight about one of the globe's most powerful sporting organisations.

Q: What is Fifa?

A: Fifa is the umbrella organisation which governs football around the world. It was formed in Paris 1904 with seven members, and has since expanded to 203 member associations.

Fifa, via its executive committee, controls virtually every aspect of football, from the laws of the game to disciplinary matters; from refereeing to the organisation of the World Cup.

Q: Why is Fifa so powerful?

A: Fifa controls the biggest single sport event in the world - the World Cup.

In the last World Cup, France 98, Fifa claim the global aggregate television audience figures topped an astonishing 33 billion people, watching from 196 countries.

Former Fifa president Joao Havelange
Joao Havelange revolutionised Fifa during his presidency

The final alone between France and Brazil attracted more than 1 billion viewers.

Because of the popularity of the game, Fifa has been able to attract enormous fees for the TV rights.

Fifa's rise to prominence followed the election of the Brazilian Joao Havelange as president in 1974.

During his 24-year reign, international football expanded globally and made the Fifa president the second most powerful man in world sport behind the head of the Olympic movement.

Q: Who votes for the president, and what powers does he have?

A: All 203 member associations are elegible to vote for the Fifa presidency.

The ballot is secret and a candidate reaching two-thirds of the vote in the first ballot is the winner. After that a simple majority is enough.

The World Cup attracts billions of viewers
The World Cup attracts billions of viewers

Voting can be highly tactical, as geographical and political regions often vote as a block. The winner, in effect, controls football through the seven vice-presidents and the Executive Committee.

The popularity of the game means the Fifa president is regarded as almost equivalent to a head of state, and can wield political power.

Q: The marketing division of Fifa recently collapsed. How could that happen to such a powerful organisation?

A: The allegations of bribery come at a difficult time for Fifa.

The collapse of ISMM, which held the marketing rights for the 2002 and 2006 World Cup, and ISL which held the TV rights for the two events for all countries outside Europe is at the least, highly embarassing.

Fifa said there is no threat to the TV coverage of the World Cup as it has insurance and guarantees from Swiss Banks.

A full investigation of Fifa's finances was demanded by 13 of the 24 members of the Executive Committee. An extraordinary meeting will take place on 7 March.

Such moves do not inspire confidence that Fifa has its house in order.

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