Mexico City - FIFA named a Senegalese UN
diplomat as its first ever female secretary general on Friday, a historic move
announced at a congress that sought to relegate world football's corruption
crisis to the past.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino made the
surprise announcement in Mexico City that he had chosen 54-year-old Fatma
Samoura, an outsider unknown to the football world, to be his deputy at the
"The congress of today demonstrates
without any shadow of a doubt that FIFA is back on track," said Infantino,
who was elected in February after his predecessor Sepp Blatter was brought down
by the scandal.
"I can officially inform you here that
the crisis is over and we are all looking forward to a great future," he
said after vowing that FIFA would be "reborn".
Samoura, who has worked on humanitarian
crises with the United Nations for 21 years, is currently based in Nigeria for
the UN Development Program.
"We have to be serious when we say we
embrace diversity and we believe in gender equality," Infantino said,
describing Samoura as the "most competent" person for the job, with
experience in managing big organizations.
"She will bring a fresh wind to FIFA,
somebody from outside, not somebody from inside, not somebody from the past but
Samoura will take her post by mid-June
after undergoing an eligibility check administered by an independent review
"Today is a wonderful day for me, and
I am honoured to take on the role of FIFA's secretary general," Samoura,
who has also worked at the World Food Program, said in a statement.
"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."
The former secretary general, Jerome Valcke
of France, was sacked in January and banned from football for 12 years over
misconduct in television deals and World Cup ticket sales -- one of the many
scandals that hit FIFA.
Germany's Markus Kattner had been serving
as interim secretary general since then.
Infantino also welcomed the appointment of
Canadian soccer federation chief Victor Montagliani as the new president of the
North and Central American and Caribbean football confederation (CONCACAF),
whose previous three leaders left office under the cloud of corruption
FIFA officials meeting in the Mexican
capital formally implemented governance reforms that were adopted at an
extraordinary congress in February.
The measures include term limits,
transparency in salaries, reinforcing integrity checks of council members, and
renaming the disgraced executive committee as the council and pruning its
The congress also approved a 2015-2018
budget that increases development aid to each football association from $400
000 to $1.25 million per year.
FIFA, meanwhile, resumed this week the
process to select the host of the 2026 World Cup, which had been frozen since
last year over claims of misdeeds in awarding the tournaments to Russia for
2018 and Qatar for 2022.
"After all the issues, or criticisms,
or whatever, which happened around the last World Cup bidding process, it is
absolutely crucial for FIFA's credibility that we have a bullet-poof bidding
process in place for 2026," Infantino said.
He noted that human rights requirements
will be examined during the process for the first time and that bidders that
fail technical requirements will be excluded.
But the scandals keep haunting world
On Monday, Infantino's former boss, Michel Platini,
said he will step down as head of European football body UEFA after failing to
overturn his ban from all football-related activity over allegations that he
received a dubious $2 million payment from FIFA.
In other decisions, the congress reinstated
Indonesia in international competitions but maintained the suspensions of
Kuwait and Benin over government interference in the sport.
FIFA also admitted Gibraltar and the former
Serbian province of Kosovo, taking the world body to 211 members and entitling
them to participate in 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
Serbia vowed to legally challenge the
inclusion of Kosovo, a former province that declared independence in 2008, a
decade after a bloody conflict.
FIFA's executive originally rejected
Gibraltar's bid, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ordered that the
congress take a vote on the British territory, which is also claimed by Spain.