FIFA’s Secretary General Fatma Samoura bids farewell

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Gianni Infantino, Emmanuel Macron and Fatma Samoura after FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019 Final football match

Fatma Samoura, the first woman and non-European to hold the position as FIFA’s Secretary General, announced her departure at the end of this year. Samoura’s seven-year tenure was instrumental in revamping FIFA’s image and breaking down historical barriers.

During her term, which began in May 2016 following her appointment by recently-elected President Gianni Infantino, Samoura instigated a series of key reforms at FIFA. She successfully orchestrated the introduction of two Deputy Secretary Generals, a new and fully developed Women’s Football Division, a Technical Development Division, and a Chief Compliance Officer, alongside enhanced programmes for FIFA’s 211 member associations.

Reflecting on her time at FIFA, Samoura stated: “It was the best decision of my life to join FIFA. I am very proud to have led such a diverse team and I want to express my deepest gratitude to Gianni Infantino for the opportunity. His unwavering support and trust made it a pleasure to work alongside him in the transformation of FIFA.”

Under her leadership, FIFA experienced unprecedented growth in women’s football. The upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ in Australia and New Zealand, which will feature the same service levels and conditions as the Men’s World Cup 2022™ in Qatar, is set to be the most extensive in the competition’s history with 32 participating teams.

Samoura’s decision to step down comes amidst growing speculation about her position. However, she clarified her focus remains on the delivery of the Women’s World Cup and the implementation of the 11 objectives outlined by President Infantino at the FIFA Congress in Kigali this past March. Samoura also voiced her intention to spend more time with her family from the next year onward.

Paying tribute to Samoura, FIFA President Infantino lauded her as a trailblazer, stating: “Fatma’s passion, enthusiasm, and dedication to drive change has been inspirational. We respect her decision to step down and are immensely grateful for her commitment to football. Fatma will continue to contribute towards the development of the game and its social values.”

Samoura’s unique perspective and experience were moulded during her two decades serving with the United Nations in countries affected by war, violence, and gender inequality, including the Republic of Djibouti, Cameroon, Chad, Guinea, Niger, Madagascar, and Nigeria. These experiences illuminated for her the unifying power of football.

The legacy she leaves behind at FIFA extends beyond her achievements, serving as a testament to the possibility of change, growth, and diversity in the world of football. As she steps down in December, Samoura leaves an organisation markedly different from the one she joined, leaving behind an indelible impact on FIFA’s history.

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