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FIFA moves more than 100 jobs from Zurich to Miami

FIFA moves more than 100 jobs from Zurich to Miami

Important tasks for FIFA are already being carried out in Paris and Singapore – and especially soon in Miami. The headquarters in Zurichberg became increasingly irrelevant.

Gianni Infantino wants to spend more time in the United States with the aim of preparing for the 2026 World Cup. Other FIFA employees will have to follow.

Karl Rissen/Reuters

In fact, things are going great for Gianni Infantino at the moment. Special prosecutors Ulrich Feder and Hans Maurer have announced that they will end criminal proceedings against FIFA president and former federal prosecutor Michael Lauber. They came to the conclusion that there was nothing legally wrong with the undocumented meetings between Infantino and Lauber. Those concerned expect the accused to receive the dismissal order within the next few days.

As long as the outcome of the proceedings was not clear, Infantino repeatedly expressed his lack of understanding of the allegations. Those around him pointed out that he lacked appreciation in his homeland. Now the FIFA president can use the removal of the legal legacy to make a stronger commitment to Switzerland, FIFA's home since 1932. But things are starting to look different again.

Internal audit and risk management are also on the move

On Tuesday, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura informed the federation's employees in writing that several key regions would be moved from Zurich to Miami. The legal department as well as internal audit and risk management must prepare for this step. The internal email, first reported by AFP, is available to NZZ.

The US branch will also organize the 2026 World Cup, which will be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico. FIFA is currently advertising for several positions in Miami. According to Samora, the establishment of the office on the East Coast of the USA and the announced move complement the vision of “making football truly global”. In addition, they become closer to member associations, in this case those from North, Central and South America and the Caribbean.

In her letter, Samora mentions that FIFA has already opened a branch in Paris in 2021 and recently another in Singapore. Finally, the Secretary-General thanked the staff “for their dedication and continued commitment.” She herself will leave the association at the end of the year.

Companies with billions in sales often move individual territories to other countries and continents. They do this not least for tax reasons: it may be useful to record the sales generated in different locations. However, moving the legal department to a different time zone than top management seems unusual. The exchange between presidents and their lawyers is usually intense in daily business.

In addition, FIFA is involved in hundreds of lawsuits before the International Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne every year. In 2022, 360 objections were submitted to the decisions of FIFA bodies, and in the past two years the number has been even higher.

The Union is often not a direct party to TAS operations, for example in contract disputes between clubs and players. In addition, negotiations now often take place virtually. However, there are still a large number of procedures that require the physical presence of a FIFA lawyer in Switzerland. Travel expenses are likely to increase significantly.

If you don't want to move, you should expect termination

Samoura announced in her internal message that the transfer of the above-mentioned departments to the United States should be completed in August 2024. More than 100 employees are likely to be affected. According to an insider, they have to decide by November whether they want to do their work in Miami in the future. Otherwise, it will be terminated until July 2024. FIFA recently employed a total of 814 people.

When asked on Wednesday, a FIFA spokesman did not want to comment on the specific timetable. He has only generally confirmed that individual departments have been informed of the move to Miami.

Infantino's public appearance conveys the image of a man who is constantly traveling around the world. FIFA employees in Switzerland sometimes wonder where their boss is. He recently lived with his family in Qatar, the venue for the 2022 World Cup. Looking ahead to the global title battles in 2026, the FIFA president stated that he wants to spend more time in the USA. The 2025 Club World Cup will also be held there.

The question of whether the headquarters of the world's most important sports federation is still located in Zurichberg may be of great symbolic importance from a Swiss point of view. It has become increasingly irrelevant for FIFA: the most important decisions have long since been made elsewhere.