The press briefing in Vancouver on the eve of the Women’s World Cup quarter-finals (WFI)

(WFI) As FIFA launches a programme aimed at getting more women in decision-making positions in football, a senior official refused to rule out one of the three female members of the executive committee running for the presidency.

Mayrilian Cruz-Blanco, FIFA senior women’s football development manager, spoke about FIFA’s new nine-month Female Leadership Development Programme at a press briefing at Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium ahead of the Women’s World Cup quarter-finals. The initiative aims to increase the number of women in leadership positions in football.

The ultimate position, president of FIFA, may be vacant soon after Sepp Blatter announced his intention to stand down earlier this month amid the fallout from the respective investigations into alleged corruption in world soccer by US and Swiss authorities. 

When asked by INSIDER if one of the three female FIFA executive committee members – Lydia Nsekera, Moya Dodd or Sonia Bien-Aime – should consider running, Blanco said: “I think maybe this is a question for them to answer. I mean, it’s open – so we will see”.

FIFA’s ExCo meets on July 20 to decide on the timing for the extraordinary elective congress called by Blatter to select a new president.

Former vice-president Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein of Jordan has indicated he would stand again if he gained support from the footballing community. UEFA president Michel Platini is a strong candidate to challenge for the top job.

On Friday, Blatter raised the prospect that he may yet stay on, telling German media “I did not resign, I put myself and my office in the hands of the FIFA congress.”

But having one of the three female FIFA ExCo members running could be the catalyst for wholesale change which many have been asking for in the wake of the current crisis.

Meanwhile, the movements of Blatter and his underfire

Vancouver’s BC Place stadium (WFI)

general secretary Jerome Valcke in the coming weeks are still unknown. A FIFA spokesperson told INSIDER in Canada that their respective travel plans would be confirmed “in due course” when asked if they would attend any of the Women’s World Cup matches.

So far, FIFA vice president and African football chief Issa Hayatou has been the most senior figure from world football’s governing body in attendance at the women’s football showpiece.

The final of the tournament takes place in Vancouver’s BC Place on July 5.

While organisers praised the high attendances seen, which have broken Canadian national records, there have been concerns from African teams that not enough investment in women’s football is being seen at grassroots level in their countries.

Blanco insisted that FIFA’s 209 member associations are required to spend “at least 15 per cent” of FIFA money on women’s football, and she emphasised that the spending was closely monitored.

“We check that that 15 per cent is allocated before we give them more funding. I can tell you in the last few years more and more funding is actually going there. In addition to that, every member association is compelled to do an audit on the financial assistance programme,” she said.

“They have an account where the funds are transferred and also FIFA does a random audit every year to make sure the funding goes to the right place.”

Reported in Vancouver by Christian Radnedge

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