Fatma Samba Diouf is now the first female to serve as FIFA’s secretary general following her appointment last week. The 54-year-old Senegalese will be succeeding former secretary general, Jerome Valcke, who has been banned from conducting any football-related activity for 12 years over alleged misuse of office.
The world’s football governing body (FIFA) has been widely praised for its radical decision to appoint a woman to run its second-most prestigious office for the first time in a century.
For over 100 years since its establishment, FIFA hasn’t had a female secretary general, raising questions over its commitment to gender parity. Many have also criticized the football body for alleged racial discrimination, arguing that the body is predominantly run by Europeans.
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Announcing her appointment on Friday last week, FIFA’s new President, Gianni Infantino praised Diouf, saying her track record proves she is accountable, transparent and a team player.
She has a proven ability to build and lead teams, and improve the way organizations perform. Importantly for FIFA, she also understands that transparency and accountability are at the heart of any well-run and responsible organization,” Gianni Infantino was quoted by BBC.
However, some critics have questioned FIFA’s decision to appoint someone with no sporting experience saying the football organization is setting her up to fail, according to the Guardian.
Who Is Fatma Samba Diouf?
A Senegalese by birth, the 54-year-old Fatma Diouf has worked for the United Nations for 21 years. Currently, she serves as UN’s country representative in Nigeria where she is in charge of UNDP budgets, human resources and procurement.
She is also in charge of monitoring and evaluating the security, political, and socio-economic affairs and trends in Nigeria on behalf of the UN.
As required by FIFA bylaws, Diouf, who is married and with three children, will undergo eligibility checks administered by an independent review committee, and if approved, she will assume the role of FIFA secretary general early June, 2016, according to FIFA.
Over the last one year, FIFA has been on the spotlight over corruption allegations, which led to the suspension of the body’s top officials including its former boss, Sepp Blatter and secretary general Jerome Valcke.
In his latest book, former FIFA president Sepp Blatter has made grievous allegations implicating influential personalities including heads of state. In one revelation, Blatter sensationally claims that he was instructed by Western nations to bribe the embattled President of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza, with a job at FIFA so that Nkurunziza would forgo his decision to run for a controversial third term as Burundi’s President.
The appointment of Fatma Samoura to the position of secretary general has also generated a lot of controversy within FIFA, with some officials claiming the appointment was done without their input, according to the Guardian.
Many are watching with baited breath to see how the new president, Gianni Infantino, will turn around the bad image and restore confidence in FIFA.