In change from ‘European white male’ past, Fatma Samoura appointed FIFA boss

Latin America

After the departure of its president and Secretary General in disgrace, FIFA decided it needed a new look. Long criticized as a bastion of European white male privilege, FIFA’s new boss is African, black and female: Fatma Samoura, a former U.N. official from Senegal.

Franc Contreras has this report from Mexico City.

Fatma Samoura appointed FIFA boss

After the departure of its president and Secretary General in disgrace, FIFA decided it needed a new look. Long criticized as a bastion of European white male privilege, FIFA's new boss is African, black and female: Fatma Samoura, a former U.N. official from Senegal. Franc Contreras has this report from Mexico City.

Samoura also has no experience in sports, but that clearly didn’t matter to FIFA president, Gianni Infantino.

“She’s working since 21 years in the United Nations. She’s a great person,” Infantino said. “She’s used to managing big organizations, big budgets, human resources, staff, finance and she will bring a fresh wind to FIFA, somebody from the outside, not somebody from the inside, not somebody from the past but somebody new.”

Still dogged by a corruption scandal implicating former President Sepp Blatter – and accusations that football’s governing body is “blatantly sexist” – FIFA appointed a woman and respected U.N. diplomat to rebrand itself.

Despite this bold move, leading Mexican sports commentator Rafael Ocampo said it’ll likely be years before Infantino can rebuild FIFA’s reputation.

“He is trapped in this network of bureaucrats. He is breathless and surrounded by characters who enrich themselves from the wealth football brings,” Ocampo said. “I do not see Infantino distancing himself from them.”

FIFA also held discussions at its world Congress in Mexico City on expansion. Instead of 32 teams, 40 will compete in the 2026 World Cup.

And in its final act of the day, FIFA admitted two new members: Kosovo and Gibraltar.

In another year, two new members might’ve made news, but as some commentators have already suggested, FIFA’s 66th annual Congress will likely be remembered as the year the organization embraced the realities of the global, multicultural sport it governs — by appointing a woman boss.