FIFA on Friday named Senegalese UN diplomat Fatma Samoura as the first female secretary general in the history of the male-dominated world football organization.
Samoura, 54, comes from outside the football world, having worked with the United Nations for 21 years. She is currently based in Nigeria for the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
Samoura will take her post by mid-June after undergoing an eligibility check administered by an independent review committee.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who announced her appointment by the FIFA Council during a congress in Mexco City, said Samoura was a “great person” with experience managing big organisations, budgets and staff.
“We have to be serious when we say we embace diversity and we believe in gender equality,” Infantino said. “She will bring a fresh wind to FIFA, somebody from outside, not somebody from inside, not somebody from the past but somebody new.”
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 has been serving as interim secretary general since then.
Samoura’s appointment was a huge surprise at a congress that was meant to focus on confirming reforms aimed at cleaning up an organisation ensnared in a massive corruption scandal..