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FIFA secretary general to leave at the end of the year

FIFA's secretary general, Senegalese Fatma Samoura poses close to FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup trophy in Rennes, France on March 8, 2018.   -  
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DAMIEN MEYER/AFP or licensors


FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura, the first woman and first non-European to become the world football body's No. 2 in 2016, will be stepping down at the end of the year to devote "more time to (her) family", the organization announced on Wednesday (June 14).

After a career at the United Nations, the 60-year-old Senegalese was appointed in May 2016 in the wake of the election of Italian-Swiss Gianni Infantino as president of the organization, and helped "restore its credibility" after a cascade of scandals, FIFA said in a statement.

"Women's football will have reached new heights under her leadership", the body continued, while the successful staging of the Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand (20 July-20 August) is the leader's last major objective.

Fatma Samoura chose to cut short "speculation about (her) position" by anticipating the announcement of her resignation, which she planned to make official "next week" to the FIFA Council, explaining that she wanted to devote herself to her family next year.

FIFA has given no indication as to her succession, although for seven years No. 2 has appeared as consensual and discreet.

Observers say Infantino’s hands-on style as an executive president has meant Samoura has often struggled to establish a clearly defined public role in the $2 million-a-year job.

He has been thunderous and divisive, making numerous proposals for reform, some of which have not been achieved, such as the move to a biennial World Cup, and controversial statements.

"Joining FIFA was the best decision I ever made in my life. I'm happy to have led such a diverse team," commented the Senegalese, who was appointed with no experience of sport or TV rights, but with a long career as a diplomat.

Quadrilingual, a major asset in a body with 211 member federations Fatma Samoura had previously spent most of her career with the United Nations, as a humanitarian coordinator, notably in Djibouti, Cameroon, Chad, Guinea, Madagascar and Nigeria.

She succeeded Frenchman Jérôme Valcke, who was swept away by a series of corruption scandals that also claimed the life of former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, to embody the "new FIFA" wanted by Gianni Infantino.

"Today, our body is better managed, more open, more reliable and more transparent", Fatma Samoura assured FIFA on Wednesday.