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FIFA equality conference charts way forward for women football

FIFA equality conference charts way forward for women football

World football governing body FIFA is committed to tend the stereotypes that women footballs face around the world.

The issue of “equality and inclusion” was widely raised at the third 2017 annual conference, held last weekend in Zurich, Switzerland.

With the theme of “Making Equality a Reality,” FIFA’s third annual conference brought to Zurich some of the world’s strongest voices in the fight for a fair, non-discriminatory society. Representatives from different walks of life discussed the efforts carried out by football’s administration and identified the many steps that still need to be taken, particularly to close the existing gap between men and women.

“When an organisation as influential as FIFA embraces the cause of women’s rights, this means a major step for the whole of society; for areas that go well beyond sports,” said deputy director of UN Women Lakshmi Puri during her opening keynote speech. “The pledge to which we come back every year on 8 March is not about a single day, the International Women’s Day, but about a concept that should permeate every moment. It is auspicious to see international institutions working to make this come true.”

Senegalese Fatma Samoura who was appointed the FIFA Secretary General last May, was the symbol of inclusion at the conference of a sport that is still very masculine.

“Our goal, as the umbrella organization for football, is to have 60 million registered women and play football by 2026,” she said.

Accompanied by specialists and experts on issues of equality and discrimination, the speakers were interested in FIFA’s efforts for a fairer world of football.

“Today, what we want is to carry the message beyond the numbers, to really allow humanity to conceive that women who play football are very legitimate. Through football, we embrace not only diversity, but also we cut down many barriers,” she added.

This Monday’s schedule featured a packed morning, with panels in which FIFA’s two female chief officers – Joyce Cook, for Member Associations, and Sarai Bareman, for Women’s Football – held open discussions with renowned specialists in equality and larger-than-life characters whose experience embodies the concept.

Gender equality was not the only form of inclusion at stake, though. The afternoon session started with the event’s moderator Sherine Tadros, Head of Amnesty International’s New York office, mediating a comprehensive conversation between former Canada goalkeeper and UNICEF ambassador Karina LeBlanc and former Dutch international Clarence Seedorf.

Fatma Samoura has been very vocal about equal opportunities in the recruitment and promotion of women in the world of football, and has invited speakers to move from words to actions.