Fatma Samoura has just changed FIFA’s history as the first woman to hold the executive position of secretary general for a male-dominated sports organization. FIFA president Gianni Infantino made the announcement on Friday.
Bearing two decades of experience working for the United Nations as a diplomat and representative for six countries, Senegalese Samoura has had considerable experience holding top executive positions, however, her non-involvement in any sports organization is notable.
Responsible for overseeing the commercial and operational side of FIFA, New York Times reports, the role would see Samoura take the vacated place of Jérôme Valcke, who was implicated in a series of corruption allegations that undermined the world’s soccer organization.
With Samoura’s last held position as the representative for the United Nations Development Program, it will be curious to see how the very first woman and non-European too, will apply her experience in sports governance and negotiation over sponsorships and media contracts for the world renowned sports.
Once she passes the now more rigorous background checks conducted by FIFA after the corruption scandals by its top executives, she will assume the position in June. Work is already waiting for her what with the World Cup 2018 and 2022 preparations are already underway.
“I also look forward to bringing my experience in governance and compliance to bear on the important reform work that is already underway at FIFA. FIFA is taking a fresh approach to its work – and I am eager to play a role in making that approach as effective and lasting as possible,” Samoura said in a statement released by FIFA.
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President Infantino’s decision to get UN veteran Fatma Samoura may seem as a curious choice, however, it seems the decision is part of his showing support to developing women’s roles and giving women a stand on the seemingly exclusive sports club for men. He has also emphasized the importance of developing women’s soccer division which has since given a thought about.
“This new Fifa is about change and about leadership. It’s about not being afraid of bold decisions sometimes,” Infantino has been quoted saying in a Guardian report.
It is important to know that this move is not due to President Infantino’s promises while he was campaigning for his election though. Stated in the reformed FIFA’s mandate, women should be given further access and roles in the leadership and at all levels of the game. By hiring Samoura, this is just the start in renewing the corruption-battered face of the organization.