For the first time female candidates are running for FIFA’s 25th seat on the Executive Committee (ExCo). The election will take place at the World Governing Body’s Congress in Mauritius, on 30 and 31 May 2013, where national associations will choose the first Representative of Women’s Football to have a four-year seat.
Historically very few football governing bodies have included women on their top bodies. In FIFA’s case all 25 members have been men throughout its 108 year existence, until Lydia Nsereka of Burundi was appointed by nomination last May.
FIFA’s new statutes designate a specific representative of Women’s football mandated for four years.
The addition of a new Executive Committee member was first suggested in April 2012 in the in the framework of FIFA’s reform process.
After, the proposal was approved by a vote taken at the 2012 Congress in Budapest, in May, Lydia Nsekera, President of the Burundi Football Association, was co-opted onto the highest body of world football until the formal election in 2013
At the time, Nsekera commented on her appointment to the board “OK, here I am. But I’m not sure that other women will be able to take up positions of responsibility in football”.
“It’s great to have women players, referees and coaches, but it gets harder when you start talking about positions of responsibility. I tell women not to set limits for themselves and to be aware that they can achieve things”.
Increasing women’s representation in Football
The deadline for nominations on the 31 January 2013 passed with four candidates being put forward by their member associations for election: Moya Dodd (Asian Football Confederation), Lydia Nsekera (Confederation of African Football), Sonia Bien-Aime (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) and Paula Kearns (Oceania Football Confederation).
The process of recognising the under-representation of women in sport has been a long one. In football FARE and UEFA undertook an initiative in 2011 to set out the issues and to take action to begin to address under-representation. This led to the appointment of Karen Espelund as a non-voting member of the UEFA Executive Committee as a first step.
FARE Executive Director Piara Powar said, “The FIFA election is an important moment in increasing women’s representation in leadership positions in football. But more needs to be done at Confederation and national level. The case for developing women leaders is clear, equality for the majority population in all sectors of life is non- negotiable, our hope would be that these top down initiatives can serve to give an example and open up opportunities at all levels of football.”