The first FIFA Congress followed immediately and on 22 May 1904, Robert Guerin was elected as President. Victor E Schneider (Switzerland) and Carl Anton Wilhelm Hirschman (Netherlands) were made Vice-Presidents. Louis Muhlinghaus (Belgium) was appointed Secretary and Treasurer, with the assistance of Ludvig Sylow (Denmark). These pioneers were faced with an immense task because FIFA only existed on paper, as it were. Now came the real work: to give this new body shape and attract new members. In the first place, the English had to be convinced that their membership of this newly created organisation was indispensable.
On 14 April 1905, the Executive Committee of the FA recognised the national associations affiliated to FIFA and joined. This was FlFA's first big success and the credit was due Baron Edouard de Laveleye. With great personal effort, the president of the Union Belge des Sociétés de Sports Athlétiques dissipated the last misgivings of the English. The Baron became the first honorary member of FIFA.
The second FIFA Congress took place in Paris from 10 to 12 June 1905. In the meantime, the associations from Germany, Austria, Italy and Hungary had joined FIFA; Scotland, Wales and Ireland would follow England's example. There was already talk about an international competition to take place in 1906. It would consist of four groups and Switzerland would be in charge of organising the semi-finals and the final. There was a proposal to involve the best club teams and Schneider, the Swiss Vice-President, had already donated a trophy.
The FIFA Executive Committee was elected for a further year but now the difficulties were accumulating. The first international competition was a failure. Various national associations had major worries, with the French governing body divided internally. These difficulties were a heavy burden for the FIFA President who had set about his tasks with so much enthusiasm. Guerin increasingly withdrew from the sport and handed over the administration to Vice-President Schneider and Espir, his personal assistant.
All the same, FIFA could now give a sign of its strength. When the 'English Ramblers', an improvised English football club, wanted to play games on the continent without the authorisation of the FA, FIFA forbade its members from playing against this team. The FA, which like its three fellow British associations now had a good relationship with FIFA, was particularly impressed by this strict and uncompromising stance.
This was in clear evidence at the next Congress in Berne in 1906 where - with Schneider conducting negotiations in the absence of Guérin - Daniel Burley Woolfall, an Englishman, was elected the new President. Woolfall was a pragmatist and had gathered a great deal of experience on the administrative board of the FA. Under his guidance, English and continental football became more united. Moreover, he also led the push for uniformity in the Laws of the Game.
The idea of holding a major international competition was still up in the air and so the FA in England assumed the responsibility for staging a tournament that took place as part of the Olympic Games in London in 1908. Some problems arose in the organisation, which were still unsolved four years later in 1912, when the tournament was played in Stockholm. The new sport was regarded with suspicion at the Olympics and was considered as a show and not a competition. Given the amateur ethos of the Olympics, the problem of professional players also arose - a thorny problem which would be pursued in decades to follow. England won both the 1908 and 1912 tournaments.
The Congress which, in accordance with the Statutes, was to be held in different cities on an annual basis, was always presided over by President Woolfall. The will to impose uniform football rules on an international level always featured at the top of the agenda. This had a positive effect, resulting in the basic rules of the federation, which are still partly valid today and which allowed FIFA to create a solid base and develop clear guidelines.
Under the guidance of the English President, obvious progress was also made in the administration. The first official FIFA bulletin was published. It was agreed to have French as the official language. The application of the Laws of the Game, strictly established according to the English model, became compulsory. A clear definition was made of international matches - national selections and inter-club - and outsiders were forbidden to organise games for lucrative purposes.
FIFA only consisted of European Associations up until 1909. The first members from overseas joined in the following order: South Africa in 1909/10, Argentina and Chile in 1912, United States in 1913. This was the start of FlFA's intercontinental activities. The long path towards full expansion had been sketched out.