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Senegal’s Samoura named first female FIFA secretary general

Senegal’s Samoura named first female FIFA secretary general

MEXICO CITY: FIFA broke new ground by appointing a Senegalese United Nations official as its first female and first non-European secretary general on Friday.

Fatma Samoura has no experience working in sports but FIFA president Gianni Infantino hopes that will help it try to regain the trust and credibility of the world.

“We want to embrace diversity and we believe in gender equality,” Infantino told the FIFA Congress in Mexico City.

The 54-year-old Samoura, who will replace the fired Jerome Valcke if she passes an eligibility check, is currently working in development for the UN in Nigeria.

Valcke of France was sacked in January and banned from football for 12 years over misconduct in television deals and World Cup ticket sales -- one of the many scandals that hit FIFA.

Germany’s Markus Kattner had been serving as interim secretary general since then.

“She is used to managing big organisations, big budgets, human resources, finance,” Infantino told FIFA’s membership. “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.”

Samoura, who speaks French, English, Spanish, and Italian, appears to have no experience dealing with commercial deals and broadcasters -- a key part of the job as FIFA’s top administrator.

Samoura will take her post by mid-June after undergoing an eligibility check administered by an independent review committee.

“Today is a wonderful day for me, and I am honored to take on the role of FIFA’s secretary general,” Samoura, who has also worked at the World Food Program, said in a statement.

“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 said Samoura coordinates the activities of around 2,000 staff members, and “monitors and evaluates the security, political, and socio-economic situation and trends in Africa’s most populous country”.

“She has a proven ability to build and lead teams, and improve the way organisations perform,” Infantino said. “Importantly for FIFA, she also understands that transparency and accountability are at the heart of any well-run and responsible organisation.”

Also, FIFA lifted Indonesia’s suspension from world football. Indonesian national and club teams, referees, and officials were banned over government interference in the running of the national federation.

Indonesia was readmitted after the government agreed to end its suspension of the football federation, but the national team have missed out on qualifying for the 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup while banned.

Benin and Kuwait are suspended due to government interference in their federations’ independence.

Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2016

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