MEXICO CITY, Mexico – The world football governing body FIFA has appointed a United Nations official as its first female and first non-European secretary general.
The ground-breaking move came Friday during FIFA Congress in Mexico City where Fatma Samoura, a Senegalese diplomat of the UN, was named as the first female secretary general in the traditionally male-dominated world football organization.
“We want to embrace diversity and we believe in gender equality,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino told members of the body, expressing hope that the historic move could help the body to regain international trust and credibility:
Samoura, 54, who is currently working in development for the UN in Nigeria, will replace fired Jerome Valcke if she passes an eligibility check. She was Infantino’s choice and was approved by a FIFA supervising council before Friday’s announcement.
“She will bring a fresh wind to FIFA — somebody from outside not somebody from inside, not somebody from the past. Somebody new, somebody who can help us do the right thing in the future,” Infantino said, adding, “She is used to managing big organizations, big budgets, human resources, finance.”
Samoura is also the first non-European to take on as secretary general in FIFA, a key role that is closely linked to the powerful body’s commercial deals and broadcasters. Her profile includes proficiency in French, English, Spanish, and Italian, a major compensation for her lack of experience in dealing with financial affairs.