Jerome Champagne announced in January his intention to run for FIFA President in the highly unlikely event that Sepp Blatter decides he won’t seek reelection in 2015.
Champagne, a 55-year-old Frenchman, is a former deputy General Secretary of FIFA. This means that rather than the maverick he paints himself as (let’s introduce ORANGE CARDS!) he is an absolute total FIFA insider.
And, it has been quietly suggested over some recent lunches at which other FIFA insiders were present, Monsieur Champagne may not be any different at all from the incumbent.
There goes the fizz. So much for change.
But here’s an idea raised by Bonita Mersiades in a presentation she made at the Play the Game conference in Denmark last year. Mersiades, a former administration manager for Australia’s national men’s team and a high-level executive who worked on Australia’s bid for the 2022 World Cup asks: “What will it take for a woman to become FIFA President?”
“Anyone who thinks the recent inclusion of three women on the FIFA Executive Committee – one voted, two co-opted for a year – is a sign of gender inclusiveness at the top levels of football, probably also thinks pigs fly,” she writes in her paper.
If figures from her native Australia are anything to compare with the rest of the world she (and we) may be waiting for some time before a woman is even considered (let alone elected) for the top role in world football.
“Amongst the boards of Australia’s ten A-League clubs, the 2015 Asian Cup organising committee and Football Federation Australia itself, there are only three women members – one of whom is a government nominee,” she adds. “Football [in Australia] goes nowhere near reflecting its base.”
• One-third of all 5-14 year old registered players are girls.
• Upwards of 40,000 adult women play.
• Up to 35% of spectators at the professional game are women.
• At least 35% of the volunteer workforce of 100,000 are women.
• The Matildas – [Australia’s] national women’s team – are the most successful of Australia’s
nine national football teams, having competed in all but one of the six Women’s
World Cup tournaments.
Mersiades continues: “Through the Australian Sports Commission, national sporting organisations that receive public funding are required to “demonstrate gender diversity”. Football’s three women Board members – or less than 5% amongst 61 positions – apparently ‘ticks the box’…. or at least there are no funding consequences. It is a very disappointing standard.”
Quotas, as Mersiades explains, may not be the best solution but neither is the status quo, which appears to resemble out-of-touch-men leading out-of-touch men.
But, besides Jerome Champagne’s suggestion of orange cards, what’s new?
You can read the Mersiades’ full paper here.