As the 66th FIFA Congress kicked off in Zurich, the world was waiting to hear what the President Infantino of the world soccer governing body was going to say. He did not disappoint – begun by announcing that this was going to be a new era for FIFA and global football with a “step change” in FIFA’s investment in football development, new FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura, progress on the implementation of the reforms, and the FIFA Legends programme.
President Infantino announced that Fatma Samoura Senegalese by nationality was going to be the second in command; to occupying the Secretary General post within a month’s time. Fatma Samoura will be the first woman and African to hold this post. Ms Samoura is a 21-year veteran of United Nations programmes who is currently serving in Nigeria as Head of the United Nations System as Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator as well as UNDP Resident Representative. Ms. Samoura arrived in Nigeria earlier this year after serving in a similar capacity in Madagascar.
She has been praised by many sections of society in Nigeria as a very pragmatic and hardworking woman. Within four months of arriving in Abuja, her current duty station, Ms. Samoura has made an instant impact in the UN System as she quickly strengthened her position as the face of a working UN in Africa’s largest economy. She has been seen as one who deals with issues head on and never scared to tell the truth. Upon arrival in Abuja, Ms. Samoura made clear that she was going to help the government of Nigeria address the security challenges being faced by the country – a message that resonated very well within the corridors of Aso Rock (otherwise called State House). She has also made statements that are unusual of UN diplomats.
For example, during her engagement with the media in March, she came out strongly on the need for strong institutions and a diversified economy for Nigeria if the country was to make any meaningful progress or sustain its growth. On Friday 13 May, she was with the Minister of Budget and National Planning Senator Udoma Udo Udoma launching a UNDP Human Development Report that made a compelling case that past neglect by Nigeria of human security parameters are to blame for the country’s low human development levels.
“Fatma is a woman with international experience and vision who has worked on some of the most challenging issues of our time,” said President Infantino. “She has a proven ability to build and lead teams, and improve the way organisations perform. Importantly for FIFA, she also understands that transparency and accountability are at the heart of any well-run and responsible organisation.”
As required under FIFA’s statutes, Ms Samoura will undergo an eligibility check by the independent Review Committee, per article 37 of the FIFA Statutes. Ms Samoura will assume the role of secretary general before mid-June.