The FIFA Logbook of International Matches: a witness to the pioneer days of football

© FIFA Museum
© FIFA Museum

On display in The Foundations section at the FIFA Museum is a page from a logbook held in the FIFA archives which contains the results of international matches. Nothing remarkable in that, you might think, but to open the pages of the logbook is to take you on a journey back in time.

The pages of the Logbook of International Matches on display in the FIFA Museum sheds a light on FIFA’s early role in world football, as well as being a valuable insight into four of the most important characters in FIFA’s history, who together acted as the keepers of a series of logbooks for over three quarters of a century. In May 1902, the first of those four characters, the Dutchman CAW Hirschman, wrote a letter to The Football Association in London in which he suggested the creation of an international football federation. His letter was to kick off the process that led to the creation of FIFA two years later. The 27-year-old Hirschman was a keen footballer and football administrator and like many on the continent, believed an international federation would enable club sides, especially those known as “frontier” clubs, to play matches against teams over the border under the control of a different association.

Hirschman’s letter also suggested the creation of an international tournament, an idea that was to lead to the creation of the World Cup 28 years later, but that’s a story for another time. It would be international matches between national teams, not club sides, that would come to dominate Hirschman’s work when he was appointed General Secretary of FIFA in 1906 to work alongside FIFA President Daniel Burley Woolfall. At the 1907 FIFA Congress in Amsterdam, Woolfall and Hirschman presented a new set of statutes that initiated FIFA’s control of international matches, a control it retains to this day. One of the provisions of the new statutes was that matches for the year ahead should only be arranged at the time of the Congress and that FIFA must be notified of the results. Thus began Hirschman’s job as the first keeper of the logbook of international matches.

5 June 1924, FIFA officials pose for a group photo during the 13th FIFA congress in Paris.
5 June 1924, FIFA officials pose for a group photo during the 13th FIFA congress in Paris. On the photo, from left to right: Vittorio Pozzo (Italy's coach, standing at the left of the front row)... Hugo Meisl (Austria's coach, moustache, behind Pozzo)... Jules Rimet (FIFA president, front view, middle of the image, dark suit)... Carl Anton Wilhelm Hirschmann (FIFA secretary general, one person right to Rimet). © FIFA Museum (click to enlarge)

In 1924, a new regulation was passed that made the keeping of records of international matches even more important to FIFA – the match levy. It was agreed at the Paris Congress that year that 7.5 per cent of the gross match receipts of international matches should be paid to FIFA, with a minimum levy of USD 5, in order to more effectively enable the work of the federation. At first, these records were kept at the headquarters of FIFA in Amsterdam, the residence of Hirschman at 67 Nic. Maesstraat. Sadly, they failed to survive FIFA’s relocation from Amsterdam to Zurich in 1932. Thankfully, however, Hirschman reproduced details of all the matches from the November 1927 issue onwards of FIFA’s Official Communications publication, which he edited.

The handwritten logbook we have in the museum dates from the time when Ivo Schricker took over as FIFA General Secretary from Hirschman. As part of the reorganisation of FIFA, Schricker, who was one of the great pioneers of German football, moved from his hometown of Karlsruhe to run the new FIFA office on Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich. This is the book he started when he completed that move.

Like Hirschman, Schricker was a keen footballer and football administrator. In 1899, he had been a key figure in arranging a tour of Germany by an England representative team. He then captained the German team in an unofficial international at Hyde Road, Manchester, in September 1901 against a strong England team containing the best players of the day, notably Bob Crompton and Steve Bloomer. As with Hirschman, it wouldn’t have just been the levy due to FIFA that would have prompted Schricker to compile such a book. It would have been a genuine interest in the results of the game.

The FIFA Logbook of International Matches, Switzerland 1932-42. © FIFA Museum
The FIFA Logbook of International Matches, Switzerland 1932-42. The exhibition presents a facsimile (title picture). The original is in our archive. © FIFA Museum (click to enlarge)

The book is well thumbed and a bit tatty around the edges, but in the FIFA archives there is more. In 1951, Schricker handed over his duties as FIFA General Secretary to the Swiss Kurt Gassmann, who continued to keep records, as did his successor Helmut Käser, who served from 1961 to 1981. In the FIFA archives, there are collections of sheets of paper that have followed in the logbook’s wake, often bundled together with the match report filed by the referee, which contains even more detail.

Today, of course, this is all done electronically by a team of people and the match levy no longer exists. Indeed, the money now flows in the opposite direction through the FIFA Forward Programme. For the football historian, however, there is perhaps a tinge of sadness that there is no longer anything physical to hold when writing the history of international matches.

And that’s what makes Schricker’s logbook so unique.