The football world has welcomed its first ever female General Secretary at the highest administrative level of the game. And yes! She is black and of course she is from Africa. She is 54, married with three children and possibly the most powerful woman in world sports now.
Who is Fatima Samoura?
Just a few months ago, she was working to make sure the world is a better place in terms of food security. She has been working with the UN since 1995 when she joined the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) division.
Interestingly, she has never been involved in football management or any major football related activities since the world heard her first cry in 1962, making her appointment a bit shocking to a lot of football followers.
In fact, my checks in Senegal say the last time she was at a stadium was as far back as 2010, during the world cup in South Africa.
She had seen some confederation cup games a year before, but went to SA for the final game between the Netherland and Spain in the world cup final.
Fatima Samoura’s strengths and what she brings on board
Samoura has decades of experience in United Nations programs in Africa, most recently as the resident representative for the United Nations Development Program in Nigeria.
FIFA boss Gianni Infantino overlooked her lack of experience in football, choosing to concentrate on cleaning up an institution whose reputation is best described as rotten.
“She will bring a fresh wind to FIFA — someone from outside,” He said.
Above all, she is coming without any “blemish” or suspicions about whether she has been corrupted by the organization. That position she is coming from, is good enough grounds to rally people around her, to heal the bitterness and the deep wounds within FIFA.
The first ever female FIFA General Secretary had her education in France and is very fluent in English, Italian and Spanish aside French, so communication is not a problem for her.
What’s the message?
During the FIFA election process, Gianni was viewed as anti-Africa by most of the FA bosses on the continent, especially with the exit of the beleaguered Sepp Blatter.
He promised to accord Africa the needed respect and he has not just given Africa it first FIFA General Secretary but the world’s first Female General Secretary of football’s most powerful organization.
In fact, he has killed two birds with one stone; this is a statement on intent as football for a long time has been stereotyped as being gender bias. The honourable lady as a female in the 2nd highest position in football will do well to promote the lady’s version of the world’s most popular sports.
And Gianni has also delivered on his promise of keeping Africa alive, just perfect and cards well played.
The post Blatter reign was predicted to be the era FIFA will be ‘Europeanized’ as it was predominantly European football associations which led the fight against Blatter. It doesn’t look so since the new General Secretary is a non-European.
With Infantino winning and the promise of cleaning up the mess in FIFA, It was feared that the clean-up will be the same as ‘whitening’ of FIFA, but the choice of Madam Samoura clearly suggests otherwise, the message is Football continues to be for all races.
Can she deliver?
FIFA in the past few years has somewhat lost its integrity. Football people have lost respect as the public view them as corrupt. No one in the football circle is trusted blindly with the never- ending scandals which engulfed administrators of FIFA.
The immediate past General Secretary himself Jérôme Valcke has been banned for 12 years for his corrupt actions. FIFA needed a new face and Fatima will provide a perfect face to bury the evils of Valcke. The woman has been appointed from outside football meaning she comes in clean and sponsors will trust her in signing mega deals with FIFA.
The appointment of Fatima Samba Diouf Samoura to the 2nd highest seat in football is indeed a bold statement that football is not for only the so-called football people; football administration is not the preserve of men. Football is for all irrespective of race, gender or faith.
By: Rahman Osman/citifmonline.com/Ghana