Over 30 million women players, but only one seat at FIFA's table

Tue Jun 16, 2015 11:51am EDT
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By Steve Keating

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - More than 30 million women play organized soccer around the world, FIFA says. Only one has only ever been elected to a full term on world soccer's all-powerful executive committee.

With the Swiss-based body currently mired in a corruption and bribery scandal, gender equality looks to be in danger of falling even further down its priorities.

But an enthralling Women's World Cup tournament unfolding right now across Canada means that FIFA's poor performance in the field of female soccer is being thrust into the spotlight.

"It is about time to have more women involved in all areas whatever it is - politics, government, business and sports organization," Tatjana Haenni, FIFA deputy director of the competitions division and head of women’s soccer told reporters during a pre-tournament news conference.

"Soccer seems to be one of the more difficult ones... Personally I think we should have more women in decision-making positions."

Burundi’s Lydia Nsekera sits alone as a female full member of the ExCo - the only woman in the 111-year history of the organization to attain that post.

Nsekera's presence accounts for only four percent of the FIFA executive board, a strikingly low figure even taking into account gender inequality in areas like politics and business. Germany recently passed a law requiring the country's top companies to have at least 30 percent women on their boards.

It's also at odds with FIFA President Sepp Blatter's description by other senior men in the executive as "the Godfather of women's soccer."   Continued...

Jun 15, 2015; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; New Zealand goalkeeper Erin Nayler (1) leaps to block a shot against China PR in the second half of a Group A soccer match in the 2015 FIFA women's World Cup at Winnipeg Stadium. Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports