'It's a strong signal' - Fatma Samoura on being FIFA's first female Secretary General
Samoura, the first woman to hold the post of FIFA Secretary General, says that "the world of football is embracing diversity," adding that she hopes to see gender parity not only within FIFA but also among its member associations in the near future.
“The matter of fact having a woman representing the administration of FIFA, the world governing body, after more than 100 years is a strong signal on how the world of football is embracing diversity. So now, my job is to make sure that the administration drop the same level of enthusiasm towards implementing diverse, let's say body will be also replicated at the level of our 211 member associations. I have also a good reason to thinks that by 2026 we'll have gender parity not only within FIFA but also among our member associations.”
Talking about FIFA's role in promoting football, she said that development should start at the grassroots level.
“To me, investing in grassroots football is definitely the best way for FIFA to seriously implement its role, which is as you know to develop the game and to make it accessible to all.”
Samoura also emphasizes the fact that much work has been done to restore FIFA's reputation after the highly-publicized corruption scandal undermined the body's credibility.
“We have been implementing the reform and it has resulted in having more women representation. It has resulted in having more transparency in the way that FIFA let's say invests in football. The money flow in and out has been really closely monitored, whether it's the money we are receiving from our sponsors, or the money that FIFA is investing in football. Through this 211 member associations, we have really a way to track every single penny."
“We have more people involved in football. FIFA has just completed its third FIFA legends 'think tank' where we invited former football players to come and give an insight on key topics that relate to football.”
The FIFA Secretary General stressed the importance of having professional footballers involved in FIFA's working process, as they not only help to improve the system but also bring back trust and confidence that were shattered.
“Well, I think that we have one single achievement today after one year, after 18 months of assignment and this is definitely credit that we are getting back to former football players and active football players by having them as ambassadors. We have Boban a former football player from AC Milan who is my deputy in charge of football. He is also the one behind the VAR (video assistant referee) program. We have Marco van Basten, a legend of football who is also part of the senior management team because he is heading the technical division.”
Senegal-born Samoura also expressed hope that five African nations (Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Morocco and Nigeria) that qualified for the 2018 World Cup will deliver a nice performance in Russia, where they will focus their efforts on reaching the final stages of the tournament.
“I think we have five good teams being represented at the African continent level. As you remember Senegal (booked) participation in the world cup 2002, went up to the quarterfinals. I think they can only do better."
“There are many African players within best European teams. So it's normal when they come back home they are ready to play for their home country at the same level of commitment as at their clubs. So I have no doubt that this year, and I really hope that this will be the case, that African teams will be really doing fine in that competition.”