From our Chair, Kerry Harris
It has been nearly 30 years since FIFA President Sept Blatter declared ‘The Future of Football is Feminine’ after the 1995 Women’s World Cup held in Sweden. I remember hearing those words and thinking to my (naïve) self, ‘this must be true’, the most powerful person in football, the FIFA President has declared it so. So, has the Feminine Future come true? To answer that question depends on what you define as a Feminine Future. Did Blatter mean more women in decision-making roles? The FIFA President and the eight Vice Presidents are all men. No women here. Perhaps Blatter meant something else. Did Blatter mean more women in high profile roles? The head of FIFA’s administration is a woman, Secretary-General Fatma Samoura, a former diplomat and senior executive at the UN in a career that spanned 21 years. Impressive. Joining Samoura in a high profile role is former Victoria Secret’s model, Adriana Lima, who was recently appointed as FIFA’s global fan ambassador for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™. Lima was famously quoted as saying that in the run-up to a fashion show she works out twice a day and drinks only protein shakes for nine days. Confusing messages on what it takes to be a high profile woman in football. Perhaps Blatter meant something else. Did Blatter mean more revenue for women’s football? FIFA were recently in sponsorship discussions with Visit Saudi, the tourism body of Saudi Arabia, for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™. Selling sponsorship rights to a country where the rights of women are severely restricted and people from LGBTI communities can be persecuted? Perhaps Blatter meant something else. We may never know what Blatter meant by declaring ‘The Future of Football is Feminine’, however we do know that actions speak louder than words. To truly be truly inclusive of women in football and women’s football we need more women in decision-making roles and increased investment at all levels of the game. The FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ provides a great springboard to elevate these important conversations.