FIFA President Gianni Infantino has urged the football community to embrace further quotas to increase the number of women in decision-making roles, in order to help secure the future of the game.
Taking part in the second FIFA Women’s Football and Leadership Conference at the Home of FIFA in Zurich, President Infantino said: “Let’s put ambitious targets and let’s see where we get to.”
FIFA’s new reforms include statutory obligations to promote and support women’s football and women in football, and a requirement of at least one female representative per confederation to be elected to the new FIFA Council.
“It’s a minimum of six. It must be more,” President Infantino said. ”We have to look at all the committees. Women’s football and women in football is a priority – it’s part of the solution for the future of football.”
The conference, titled ‘Equality through Reform’, focused on three areas: women’s football development, women in leadership, and reform. The event featured guest appearances from tennis legend Billie Jean King, former U.S. football star Abby Wambach, Stony Brook University Professor Michael Kimmel, and BBC Director of Sport Barbara Slater.
King said FIFA should commit to three goals in support of its reforms, including targets of a third for women in leadership, the appointment of any new FIFA Secretary General with a track record of supporting gender equality, and a “serious commercial strategy for women’s football as a primary area of growth”.
“The goal is not just to reform but also to transform,” she said. “FIFA: it’s 2016, this is your chance to make a positive change. This is your opportunity to do the right thing.”
The demand for a commercial strategy for women’s football was supported by FIFA Executive Committee member Moya Dodd, and reflects the “calls for action” put forward last year by the FIFA Task Force for Women’s Football.
FIFA Vice President Sunil Gulati said the new reforms, approved by the FIFA Extraordinary Congress on Feb. 26, were just “the start of the process”. “If it stops at what happened last week and doesn’t get down to the confederations, the federations and the member associations, then it’s not a success.”
Gulati also called for a significant increase in FIFA women’s football development activities during President Infantino’s current term of office, which ends in 2019. “We should be increasing those 10-fold in three years,” he said.
Wambach, who retired from football last year after the U.S. won the FIFA Women’s World Cup, said women’s football must become a top priority for the governing body and its member associations. “There is so much more potential for growth in women’s football than in men’s football,” she said. “FIFA can make a statement.”
The FIFA Women’s Football and Leadership Conference is an annual event that coincides with International Women’s Day, and seeks to provide a platform for open and honest debate about how to improve the organisation’s support for women in football.
“This is a symbol of what we want to achieve in the future,” President Infantino said.