Fatma Samoura honoured in recognition of her achievements as Secretary General; Progress in women’s football and development schemes central themes of speech; Vows to continue work against discrimination after stepping down at the end of the year.
Fatma Samoura has received the Choiseul Grand Prix award at a ceremony in Casablanca, Morocco, in recognition of her achievements during more than seven years as FIFA Secretary General.
Appointed in 2016 and the first female, African and Muslim Secretary General in over a century of FIFA history, Ms Samoura has since worked tirelessly alongside President Gianni Infantino to rehabilitate FIFA’s image and increase transparency.
She has also been a staunch advocate for women’s football, and her tenure has seen a major increase in the number of girls and women playing the game as FIFA work towards the goal of 60 million female players in organised football by 2026.
In her acceptance speech, Ms Samoura highlighted the success of the expanded FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, which saw nearly two million fans attend matches in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, and noted the significant impact the tournament would have not only on the women’s game, but also society.
“As my journey with FIFA draws to a close, I have had some time to look back on the last seven-and-a-half years and see just how far we have come. FIFA itself has changed significantly. When I stepped into the role in June 2016, it was basically a toxic brand due to all the corruption scandals. So along with President Infantino, I had to take a leading role in cleaning up the organisation, inside and out. Today FIFA is a more accountable, better governed and more transparent organisation that puts football in the center of its activities, and I am hugely proud to have contributed in some small way to creating that.” said Ms Samoura at the event organised by Institut Choiseul, an independent, non-partisan and non-profit thinktank focused on finding solutions to economic challenges in Africa.
Ms Samoura has also contributed to changing the face of FIFA. Since the founding of the Women’s Football (https://apo-opa.co/3G7NOrE) Division in 2016, the FIFA Council (https://apo-opa.co/46kZotR) now features seven female members, including one FIFA Vice-President, while over 40 percent of FIFA employees are female.
But she has also been a driving force behind development schemes such as the FIFA Football for Schools programme (www.FootballForSchools.FIFA.com), this week attending the launch in Ethiopia (https://apo-opa.co/46qshVE) as the East African nation became the 102nd of FIFA’s 211 Member Associations (MAs) to join the initiative, which aims to give children around the world skills for life as well as football.
She also highlighted the benefits of the Talent Development Scheme (https://apo-opa.co/46j6ZsT), which provides the most promising young players a pathway to fully exploit their potential, and the FIFA Forward programme (https://apo-opa.co/49VJNUX), which funds MAs’ football-related development projects and has seen a seven-fold increase in support since 2016.
The FIFA Talent Development Scheme (https://apo-opa.co/47DbFuR) helps raise the standards of national-team football around the world for both men and women. The scheme supports MAs in making the most of the talent available to them with FIFA approved a funding allocation of USD 200 million. FIFA’s ambition is that by 2026, all MAs will have at least one high-performance centre of excellence for players between the ages of 12 and 16.
Ms Samoura was also a driving force behind FIFA’s partnership with Agence Française de Développement (AFD) (https://apo-opa.co/3MRbDaG). The partnership has seen projects to mitigate Covid 19 effects, projects on mental health co-financed with the GIZ (the German Development Cooperation) (https://apo-opa.co/3sEkaXQ), and the Championnes programme. The Championnes programme is an important project that promotes leadership among girls and promotes gender equality in Africa through football.
The most recent co-financed FIFA/AFD initiative (https://apo-opa.co/3sEinC4) – with Play International and Diambars as implementation agencies – is an inclusive football academy programme launched in Djibouti, Malawi and Mauritania.
The benefits of these programmes in Africa can already been seen in recent FIFA tournaments including the FIFA Women’s World Cup™️ which saw an increase to four African teams qualify for the finals, with a record three of them – Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa – reaching the knockout rounds. African nations have also impressed in the FIFA U-17 World Cup™️, currently being held in Indonesia. Three out of the four CAF nations – Morocco, Mali and Senegal – have qualified for the knockout rounds with Morrocco finishing top of their group.
The Football Unites the World campaign, and the wide range of social issues given greater visibility at the FIFA World Cup last year in Qatar and this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, such as gender equality and education for all, have all been causes close to Ms Samoura’s heart during her time in office. She said she intends to keep promoting those issues when she steps down as FIFA Secretary General at the end of the year.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FIFA.
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