FIFA Friday appointed Senegalese UN executive Fatma Samoura secretary general while giving Kosovo and Gibraltar the go-ahead to play in World Cup qualifiers as football governing body's newest members.
Samoura is the first woman and the first African to be appointed for the number two position at FIFA. All previous secretary generals since FIFA was founded in 1904 have been Europeans.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who was elected in February, said at the organization's congress in Mexico City Friday that Samoura was someone from the outside who "will bring a fresh wind" to FIFA, which has been mired in corruption scandals.
"It is essential for FIFA to incorporate fresh perspectives – from outside the traditional pool of football executives – as we continue to restore and rebuild our organisation," Infantino said.
He described Samoura as "a woman with international experience and vision who has worked on some of the most challenging issues of our time."
He added: "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, 54, who has no previous links to football, has worked in various roles at the United Nations for some 21 years since beginning her UN career as a senior logistics officer with the World Food Programme in Rome in 1995.
She is currently the UN’s resident/humanitarian coordinator and UN Development Programme resident representative in Nigeria. She speaks French, English, Spanish and Italian.
“Today is a wonderful day for me, and I am honoured to take on the role of FIFA’s secretary general,” Samoura said in a FIFA statement.
Samoura will assume her new role before the middle of next month subject to an an eligibility check administered by FIFA's independent review committee.
FIFA's former secretary general, Jerome Valcke of France, was dismissed in January and the following month banned from football for 12 years. It followed an investigation into allegations of potential misconduct related to the sale of World Cup tickets and other cases of alleged misconduct.
Germany's Markus Kattner has been serving as interim secretary general since then.
Kosovo was meanwhile accepted as 210th member after 141 delegates approved membership and 23 voted against.
Serbia, from which Kosovo declared independence in 2008, has opposed Kosovo's membership, and its federation said it would appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Kosovo was on May 3 admitted as the 55th member of UEFA on a 28-24 vote.
Gibraltar then became FIFA's 211 member in a 117-12 vote. It has been a member of European football body since 2013. The vote came after the Gibraltar Football Association (GFA) had successfully gone to CAS to get FIFA to look favourably at its application.
Gibraltar had campaigned for several years to be recognized as a football country in its own right despite being a British Overseas Territory.
Both Kosovo and Gibraltar can now take part in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. With the group draw already made, it will now be up to UEFA to determine the procedures.
In other developments, FIFA members approved a revised financial plan to 2018. A budget of 1.178 billion dollars includes provision for a football development payment of 5 million dollars per association per four-year cycle as pledged by Infantino when running as a candidate for the presidency.
FIFA had a shortfall of 122 million dollars in 2015 largely as a result of legal fees relating to various corruption scandals.
The body hopes to have a profit of 100 million dollars at the end of the two-year cycle, including increased marketing and TV rights revenues, Kattner said.
Saturday, May 14, 2016 - 16:53
Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - 17:44