Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura made history yesterday when she became the first woman, as well as the first African to head the world football governing body’s secretariat.
Ms. Samoura, Senegalese, is a 21-year veteran of United Nations programmes, who is currently the UN’s Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Nigeria.
Yesterday’s announcement by FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, at the 66th FIFA Congress in Mexico City came as a surprise to many followers of the world body. But FIFA said it took the decision to appoint the Senegalese after carefully going through the resume of many candidates for the position.
“Fatma is a woman with international experience and vision who has worked on some of the most challenging issues of our time,” President Infantino said. “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 statutes, Ms. Samoura will undergo an eligibility check administered by the independent Review Committee, per Article 37 of the FIFA Statutes. Ms. Samoura will assume the role of FIFA Secretary General before mid-June.
President Infantino praised Ms. Samoura’s integrity, and said the Council was particularly impressed with her operational experience, as well as her expertise in governance and working in multi-cultural environments. He said her expertise will complement the long-standing and deep knowledge of world football within the FIFA leadership team and administration.
“It is essential for FIFA to incorporate fresh perspectives – from outside the traditional pool of football executives – as we continue to restore and rebuild our organisation. No one exemplifies what we need more than Fatma does, and we are thrilled that she has joined our team.”
Since starting her UN career as a senior logistics officer with the World Food Programme in Rome in 1995, Ms. Samoura has served as country representative or director in six countries: Republic of Djibouti, Cameroun, Chad, Guinea, Madagascar and Nigeria. She speaks French (her mother tongue), English, Spanish and Italian.
“Today is a wonderful day for me, and I am honoured to take on the role of FIFA’s Secretary General,” Ms. Samoura said. “I believe this role is a perfect fit for my skills and experience – strategic, high impact team building in international settings – which I will use to help grow the game of football all over the world. I also look forward to bringing my experience in governance and compliance to bear on the important reform work that is already underway at FIFA.
“FIFA is taking a fresh approach to its work – and I am eager to play a role in making that approach as effective and lasting as possible.”
In her current UN role in Nigeria, Ms. Samoura has wide-ranging responsibilities including budgeting, human resources, and procurement, among others. She coordinates the activities of approximately 2,000 staff members, and monitors and evaluates the security, political and socio-economic situation and trends in Africa’s most populous country.
Prior to joining the UN, Ms. Samoura spent eight years in the private sector, working in the fertiliser trading sector for Senchim, a subsidiary of Industries Chimiques du Senegal. Her areas of responsibility included product export and import programs, tenders, and the establishment of a national distribution network.
Ms. Samoura earned her Masters Degree in English and Spanish at the University of Lyon; and a Post-Masters Degree in international relations/international trade from the Institut d’Etudes Supérieures Spécialisées (IECS)- Strasbourg-France