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Daniel Burley Woolfall

Biographical information

Full nameDaniel Burley•Woolfall
Used nameDaniel Burley•Woolfall
Born15 June 1852 in Blackburn, Blackburn with Darwen, England (GBR)
Died24 October 1918 in Blackburn, Blackburn with Darwen, England (GBR)
NOC(s) Great Britain


The son of a Blackburn plumber, Daniel Burley Woolfall was to become one of football’s great administrators. He attended Blackburn Grammar School, and several of their students helped form the Blackburn Rovers Football Club in 1875. Woolfall was appointed the club’s representative to the Lancashire Football Association in 1881, and served on the county FA from 1885. Having trained as an accountant, he was a former Inspector of Taxes for Blackburn, and his accountancy skills led to him being appointed treasurer of the Football Association in 1901. He continued his posts with the Lancashire FA and the Football Association until his death in 1918.

Woolfall’s most important appointment was on 4 June 1906 when he became the second president of FIFA, and the first Englishman to hold the post. During his tenure, there were major changes internationally. He was responsible for standardising the laws of the game, and introduced the first organised international football tournament at the 1908 Olympics (the final being refereed by John Lewis, founder of Blackburn Rovers), Woolfall also extended the boundaries of FIFA beyond its traditional roots of Europe, with the addition of South Africa (1910), Argentina and Chile (1911) and the United States (1912). Also in 1912, under Woolfall’s presidency, FIFA eventually granted admission to the other three United Kingdom countries (Wales, Scotland and Ireland), after previous objections. Woolfall died in office in 1918, and it was his successor Jules Rimet who introduced the FIFA World Cup in 1930, but it is strongly believed the original idea of a world tournament came from Woolfall.

Woolfall joined the Lancashire Rifle Volunteers in 1874 and spent over 20 years in the Army. He dovetailed his footballing duties with those as secretary of the East Lancashire Cricket Club and Crosshills Tennis Club. In 1912 he served on the jury of the Stockholm Olympics and also oversaw the football tournament.

Organization roles

Role Organization Tenure Details
President Fédération Internationale de Football Association 1906—1918