Women football leaders target breakthroughs in World Cup year

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — In a World Cup year set to drive faster progress in women’s football, elections in Europe next month will have a global audience for a potential breakthrough in gender equity.

Women football executives taking part in an annual joint FIFA-UEFA leadership course for them in Switzerland this month are keenly awaiting the result of votes on April 5 for seats on the ruling committees at both football bodies.

The past decade has seen women receive a single protected quota place to sit at decision-making tables at each of FIFA and the six continental authorities such as UEFA.

However, women have yet to win international football politics elections in direct contests against men. Quota seats have been treated as a closed limit rather than a door opening.

That could change when the 55 member federations of UEFA meet soon in Lisbon with two options to make women the winners.

Norwegian federation president Lise Klaveness is one of 11 candidates — the other 10 are men — for seven available seats on the UEFA executive committee.

The president of England’s Football Association, Debbie Hewitt, is challenging incumbent David Martin of Northern Ireland for the FIFA vice presidency reserved for only the four British football nations.

Klaveness’ campaign and progressive views — typically rare in football circles — have been seen as a cause célèbre for the advancement of women executives.

“It’s very brave of Lise to step into the election process,” Australia’s delegate at the women’s leadership course, Amy Duggan, told the Associated Press. “I wish her the best of luck. I would hope that everybody who is voting understands that diversity and inclusion is needed to make our game bigger and better.”

Klaveness and Hewitt are in a select group of a few female presidents among FIFA’s 211 members, and most federations which have a women leader also will play at the Women’s World Cup: Norway, England, co-host New Zealand, the defending champion United States and Canada.

Still, the backdrop to Cindy Parlow Cone being elected to lead the US Football Federation and Canada Football appointing Charmaine Crooks as interim president this month includes women players challenging previous leadership on issues like equal pay and lack of respect.

France and Spain have also been in turmoil with key players speaking out. Norway’s Ballon d’Or-winning forward Ada Hegerberg exiled herself from the national team for years until returning last year at the time Klaveness, a former national team player, was elected president.

“In the World Cup year it’s always disappointing to think some of our best players across the globe might not be on the world stage,” Duggan said. “I do hope that all sorts itself out.”

Promoting more women into executive positions during the rapid professionalisation of women’s football was a shared goal during the week-long course at a business management school in Lausanne. The FIFA-UEFA course has taught more than 100 students in the past four years.

In Nigeria, federation board member Aisha Falode noted the shocked reaction of the men’s national team failing to reach the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

“Heaven was going to fall,” she told the AP. “We, the women, have qualified for every single World Cup since it started (in 1991) and it’s like nothing. The awareness is almost non-existent.”

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login


  1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper; email addresses will not be published.
  2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.
  3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.
  4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.
  5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.
  6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.
  7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

Which long-term investment option is more attractive to you at the moment?