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Stanley Rous

Biographical information

Full nameStanley Ford•Rous
Used nameStanley•Rous
Born25 April 1895 in Mutford, Suffolk, England (GBR)
Died18 July 1986 in London, Greater London, England (GBR)
NOC(s) Great Britain


The recipient of the last ever Olympic Diploma of Merit, number 58, in 1974, Sir Stanley Rous was one of the greatest administrators and innovators seen in British and World football. Born at Mutford, Lowestoft, the organizational skills of Rous were evident as a youngster when he formed, and played in the village football team. He later played in goal for Lowestoft Town FC. During World War I, Rous served with the Royal Field Artillery and saw service in France and Palestine, but maintained his football connection when he refereed Army games in Egypt.

After the War, Rous became the senior sports master at Watford Grammar school who, ironically, played rugby football, not the association version. During his time at Watford, he qualified for his Class 1 football referee’s badge, and in 1926 was a linesman at the FA Cup final at Wembley. In 1934 he had the honour of refereeing the final between Manchester City and Portsmouth, and officiated in 36 international matches across Europe.

Also in 1934, Rous was appointed the new secretary of the Football Association, a post he held until 1961. During his time in office he re-drafted many of the laws of the game, including the introduction of red and yellow cards for on-field offences. However, probably his greatest innovation was the introduction of the “diagonal” running system for referees. During World War II, Rous was invited by the Football Association to become the honorary secretary of the Red Cross sports committee, and through his hard work, he raised more the £3 million for Red Cross funds. He was subsequently honoured with a CBE in 1943, and in 1949 was honoured with a knighthood for his work with the London Olympic Games and sport in general.

After the War, Rous was responsible for getting the four Home countries (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) back into FIFA in 1947, after a 19-year absence. Also that year, he was responsible for the launch of the FIFA International Youth tournament, which remains popular today. In the 1950s Rous was appointed chairman of the FIFA referees’ committee, and back at home was involved with many schemes and organisations, including the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. He was also vice-president of the National Playing Fields Association, and served on the King George’s Jubilee Trust, the Central Council for Physical Recreation and the British Olympic Committee, when he played an active part in the four Games from 1948-60. In 1961 Rous ended his term as FA secretary when he was appointed president of FIFA, a post he held until 1974, after which he became honorary president. When Sir Stanley Rous died in 1986, British and World football lost one of its greatest administrators and ambassadors.

Organization roles

Role Organization Tenure Details
President Fédération Internationale de Football Association 1961—1974