Former President of the International Olympic Committee Juan Antonio Samaranch, who passed away recently, was one of the guests of honour at the jubilee Congress in Zurich in 1996. In his speech, he emphasised football’s special status as the world’s most popular sport and referred to the first Women’s Olympic Football Tournament, to be staged at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

FIFA President Havelange went on to describe the accomplishments made by world football’s governing body since he had taken office in 1974 and expressed particular satisfaction with the recent improvements made to the Laws of the Game, and the changes to the competition regulations, such as three points for a win instead of two, which encouraged attacking play. As a result, football had become more exciting and attractive.

Among the decisions taken at the 1996 Congress, the following two are particularly noteworthy: firstly, the provisional membership of the Palestine Football Association was ratified, and secondly, the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) was granted official confederation status, despite Australia’s (!) opposition.