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date: 06 July 2020

Guérin, Robert

A Dictionary of Sports Studies

Alan Tomlinson

Guérin, Robert 


A French sport journalist, writing for Le Matin, and sport administrator, who became the first president of the world governing body of football, La Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), in 1904. The founding constitution of the organization was signed in Paris. Guérin, aged only 28, was chairman of the Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques, an umbrella association covering a wide range of sports in France. From this base in journalism and administration, Guérin had from 1902 advocated an international organizing body for football, with the primary objectives of clarifying and standardizing the rules of the game, recognizing one national association per country, and providing a framework for the organization of international matches and competition. There would inevitably be tensions here, as Great Britain claimed four ‘national’ associations, and ran the rule-making body the International Football Association Board. Guérin and his pioneering colleagues nevertheless continued negotiating with the British, including his successor Daniel Woolfall, and in 1905 FIFA was recognized by the British. In 1906 Guérin resigned when his attempts to launch an international tournament were frustrated, and the English Football Association joined FIFA with Woolfall becoming the organization's second president. Guérin represents a French prominence and internationalist vision in sport administration, alongside the inventor of the modern Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin. See also Rimet, Jules.