(WFI) Lydia Nsekera is the first woman to be elected to FIFA’s executive committee.
With 95 votes, the Burundi Football Association president beat rivals, Moya Dodd of Australia, (70 votes) and Sonia Bien-Aime of Turks and Caicos Islands (38 votes) at the FIFA Congress in Mauritius on Friday.
Nsekera, who had been co-opted at last year’s congress, won a four-year mandate. “I will inspire women to believe they can lead, I will push them to let their girls play football because it is a school of life, and I will support women in the member associations,” the 46-year-old, also an IOC member, said after her election.
But there was criticism of her election, with two FIFA delegates telling Reuters that Dodd, a former Australian player, member of the Football Federation Australia’s ExCo and now an Asian Football Confederation vice president, was better qualified for the role.
“Nsekera was personally chosen by president Blatter last year and the status quo has been maintained for obvious reasons,” one was quoted as saying. Blatter seems likely to run for president again in 2015, and his championing of Nsekera will help bring African votes.
However, Dodd and Bien-Aime also join FIFA’s top table as co-opted members, for one year.
Dodd tweeted: “ Gr8 day 4 women in football, and 4 Australia. Excited 2 take my place as co-opted member on FIFA ExCo! Thanks 4 amazing support.”
Also officially installed on the FIFA ExCo were acting CONMEBOL president Eugenio Figueredo (Uruguay), AFC president Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa (Bahrain).
It also now includes China’s Zhang Jilong, the former Asian football leader who decided not to contest the AFC presidential race but has now been chosen to replace Sri Lanka’s Vernon Manilal Fernando. Fernando was investigated over alleged mismanagement of AFC funds in March and a month later banned by the ethics committee for eight years ban for breaching the code of ethics.
Reforms Process Still Not Finished
Along with the much trumpeted resolution on the fight against racism and discrimination, Nsekera’s election was the biggest news coming out the congress.
The congress would have been more newsworthy had it included a votes on new term and age limits for the FIFA president and senior officials, and whether they should publish salaries and expenses. But those proposals were dropped from the agenda and delayed until next year’s congress.
Nonetheless, with 198 votes of the 208 voting member associations, confirmed the
overwhelming support for Blatter’s reforms process started in 2011.
The two-year governance revamp, triggered by the bribery and corruption that tainted the 2018/2022 World Cup bidding process and FIFA presidential election, has included the launch of a new two-chamber ethics committee – investigatory and adjudicatory, creation of an audit and compliance committee, adoption of new codes of ethics and conduct, and approval of a plan for the congress to decide on the World Cup host rather than the ExCo, which decided on Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022, but based on an ExCo shortlist. Also written into the statutes are integrity checks prior to the election of individuals seeking a senior FIFA position on the ExCo or one of its committees.
The resolution on the fight against racism and discrimination is based on three major principles: education, prevention, and sanctions, which include sporting sanctions, such as point deductions and relegation was welcomed by a standing ovation from the congress delegates.
In addition, the chairmen, deputy chairmen and members of the judicial bodies (Disciplinary Committee, Appeal Committee and Ethics Committee) and the Audit and Compliance Committee were elected by the Congress.
FIFA Medical Committee chief Michel D’Hooghe updated delegates on the work being done on medicine and health issues. Jiří Dvořák, FIFA’s chief medical officer, presented the new FIFA Medical Emergency Bag (FMEB), which will be issued to all of FIFA’s 209 member associations. It includes an automated external defibrillator (AED), an instructional video and a medical emergency kit. FIFA’s “11 for Health” programme received unanimous approval for expansion until 2019.
The Congress supported a revision of players’ agents regulations: the current licensing system is to be abandoned; a set of minimum standards must be established; and a registration system for intermediaries must be set up. A final draft of regulations will be presented to the Executive Committee and to the 2014 FIFA Congress.
All of FIFA’s member associations – except Bhutan, due to national elections in the country – participated in the 2013 Congress.
The next FIFA congresses will take place in São Paulo (10-11 June 2014) and Zurich (28-29 May 2015).
By INSIDER’s Mark Bisson
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