World soccer’s governing body Fifa has elected Senegalese United Nations official Fatma Samoura its first ever female secretary general.
Samoura, who is also the first non-European to hold the post, replaces Jérôme Valcke, who was banned from all soccer-related activity for 12 years in February.
Samoura, 54, is currently the UN’s resident and humanitarian coordinator and UNDP resident representative in Nigeria. Her appointment is subject to an eligibility check by Fifa’s independent review committee, but she is expected to take control of the federation's business operations before mid-June.
“Fatma is a woman with international experience and vision who has worked on some of the most challenging issues of our time,” Fifa president Gianni Infantino said in a statement.
“She has a proven ability to build and lead teams, and improve the way organisations perform. Importantly for Fifa, she also understands that transparency and accountability are at the heart of any well-run and responsible organisation.”
Samoura’s appointment - her first in sport - came during Fifa’s 66th congress in Mexico City, where the decision was also taken to admit Gibraltar and Kosovo as the 210th and 211th members of the federation.
Kosovo received 141 ‘yes’ to 23 ‘no’ votes, while Gibraltar received 172 ‘yes’ to 12 ‘no’ votes. Both members will now be entitled to take part in the 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifiers.
The Fifa Council, which has replaced the old Fifa ExCo, also lifted the suspension of the Football Association of Indonesia imposed in May 2015 and upheld the suspensions of Benin and Kuwait. It has also been announced that the federation will significantly increase its cash handouts to member associations through its new 'Fifa Forward' development programme.
From now on, each association will receive US$5 million per four-year cycle - up from US$1.6 million currently - for football projects and associated running costs. Fifa said 'the use of funds will be monitored closely through enhanced compliance, accountability and transparency, with all member associations required to publish independent audits of their finances'.
In other news from the congress, Fifa voters have elected a host of new names to its various committees as the federations begins to implement its new package of reforms passed earlier this year. Per a Fifa statement:
- Governance Committee: Luís Miguel Poiares Maduro (Portugal) has been elected as chairman and Mukul Mugdal (India) as deputy chairman. Both will also head the independent review committee. Luis Felipe Cantuarias Salaverry (Peru) was elected as a member of this committee.
- Disciplinary Committee: John Simmonds (Jamaica), Leonardo Carlos Stagg Peña (Ecuador) and Carlos Manuel Terán Valero (Venezuela) have been elected as members.
- Ethics Committee: Akihiro Hara (Japan), Oscar Vicente Scavone Rivas (Paraquay) and Anin Yeboah (Ghana) have been elected as members in the Adjudicatory Chamber.
- Audit & Compliance: Enrique Bonilla (Mexico) and Jorge del Solar Bueno (Bolivia) have been elected as new members.