Sir Stanley Rous: The Lawman

Sir Stanley Rous is unique among FIFA Presidents in that he is the only one to have played an active role during an international match on the pitch itself.

As a leading referee in the late 1920s and early 1930s, Rous first took charge of an international when the Netherlands met Belgium in Antwerp in March 1927. His final match in charge was a World Cup qualifier between the same two teams in 1934 - the day after he had refereed the FA Cup Final between Manchester City and Portsmouth.

Rous put these experiences to good use when he started his new job as the secretary of the Football Association that same year in 1934. Although the job of secretary was to administer English football (he was only the third person to hold this elevated position since 1870, following in the footsteps of Charles Alcock and Frederick Wall), it was in his role serving on the IFAB that maintained his international profile. In particular, Rous will always be remembered for his redrafting of the Laws of the Game.

By the time he took up office as FA secretary, the Laws of the Game had been amended and added to so many times since the previous redrafting in 1891, that they had become more and more difficult to follow. Over the course of two years, Rous carefully worked on reorganising and rewording the Laws and he presented his new Laws - often referred to as 'The Rous Laws' - in 1936. They were accepted by the IFAB as the new Laws of the Game at its meeting in 1938.

One of the outstanding items in the FIFA World Football Museum is Rous’ handwritten draft of those Laws. His work as an international referee, and as the author of the revised Laws, helped Rous win the FIFA Presidency in 1961, a position he held until 1974. In later life, he regarded his handwritten draft as his most prized possession and presented them to FIFA shortly before his death in 1986.

Rose-Marie Breitenstein, the former personal assistant to Stanley Rous, paid he museum a visit earlier this year. She donated several items that belonged to the former FIFA President.