Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura has become FIFA’s first female secretary general as she was appointed to succeed former secretary general Jerome Valcke, who was banned from soccer-related activity for 12 years.
The 54-year-old Senegalese spent 21 years working for the United Nations and will start at soccer’s governing body in June.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: “It is essential FIFA incorporates fresh perspectives as we continue to restore and rebuild our organization.
“She has a proven ability to build and lead teams, and improve the way organizations perform. Importantly for FIFA, she also understands that transparency and accountability are at the heart of any well-run and responsible organization.”
Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura’s appointment, announced at FIFA’s congress in Mexico City, completes a new-look to an organization which has been dogged by corruption allegations under Jerome Valcke and previous president Sepp Blatter.
Sepp Blatter, who had led FIFA since 1998, stood down in 2015 and was later suspended from soccer for six years for breaching ethics guidelines.
Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura, who will undergo an eligibility check before her role is ratified, currently works for the UN in Nigeria, and speaks four languages.
She started her UN career as a senior logistics officer with the World Food Program in Rome in 1995 and has since served as country representative or director in six African countries, including Nigeria.
At her appointment, Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura said: “Today is a wonderful day for me, and I am honored to take on this role.
“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.”
Soccer’s world governing body FIFA has decided to suspend its president Sepp Blatter, secretary general Jerome Valcke and vice-president Michel Platini for 90 days.
The sanctions were handed out by the FIFA’s ethics committee, which is investigating the three over corruption allegations.
It also banned ex-FIFA vice-president Chung Mong-joon for six years.
Issa Hayatou, who heads Africa’s soccer confederation (CAF), will act as FIFA president during Sepp Blatter’s ban.
Spain’s Angel Maria Villar is expected to perform the same role at UEFA – European soccer’s governing body – while Michel Platini is suspended.
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Both Chung Mong-joon and Michel Platini are hoping to replace Sepp Blatter when he steps down as president in February 2016.
“The grounds for these decisions are the investigations that are being carried out by the investigatory chamber of the ethics committee,” the FIFA said in a statement.
Sepp Blatter, Jerome Valcke and Michel Platini are banned from any soccer activity in the interim. They deny any wrongdoing.
Earlier this year, US authorities indicted 14 FIFA officials and associates on bribery and racketeering charges. A simultaneous Swiss investigation was started into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Michel Platini and South Korean billionaire Chung Mong-joon – who was also fined 100,000 Swiss Francs by the ethics committee – are two of the leading candidates to replace Sepp Blatter in February.
The 2026 World Cup bidding process has been delayed amid corruption allegations around the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.
According to FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, it was “a nonsense” to begin the process in the current climate.
The vote to decide who will host the 2026 World Cup is due to take place in Kuala Lumpur in May 2017.
The US is front-runner to stage the tournament, but Canada, Mexico and Colombia are also thought to be interested.
Russia and Qatar were selected to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups by a secret ballot of FIFA’s 22 executive members in December 2010.
Meanwhile Swiss prosecutors are investigating alleged financial irregularities surrounding the bidding process. Both Russia and Qatar have denied any wrongdoing.
Soccer’s world governing body had planned to inform its member federations this week of the bidding schedule for 2026, but Jerome Valcke said: “Due to the situation, I think it’s nonsense to start any bidding process for the time being.”
Speaking in the Russian city of Samara, Jerome Valcke also defended FIFA’s handling of a $10 million payment from the South African government towards a Caribbean Diaspora legacy program.
US prosecutors allege the payment was a bribe to help secure the 2010 World Cup for South Africa.
The South African government insists it was a legitimate payment to promote Caribbean football.
Jerome Valcke said: “It was not FIFA’s money. It was a request from official South African authorities and the South African Football Association (SAFA). As long as it is in line with rules we do it.
“I don’t understand what’s the problem and why I am such a target in this question.”
FIFA President Sepp Blatter has announced he will step down from his role, amid the ongoing allegations of corruption in the governing body, including the indictment of 14 people on corruption charges by US authorities.
Sepp Blatter is expected to be replaced at an election on December 16.
When faced with questions over his own future, Jerome Valcke said: “You – the media – have decided that after Blatter I am the head to be cut, fine, but don’t say it is because of this $10 million.”
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