African women are beginning to make their mark in soccer administration.
Just two months after Burundi Soccer Association president Lydia Nsekera was elected to the powerful International Soccer Federation (FIFA) executive committee, Isha Johansen has been confirmed as president of the Sierra Leone Soccer Federation.
The 48-year-old was unopposed after three other candidates were disqualified from standing.
Her first job will be to get her country’s league up and running after a boycott by the clubs over the ban on three presidential nominees.
Mired in controversy for almost a year, there was disagreement at last Saturday’s elections over eligible voting delegates. FIFA endorsed the Sierra Leone Federation’s interim committee decision to disqualify Mohamed Kallon, Rodney Michael and Foday Turay from the presidential polls. The trio then boycotted the polls in protest at the expulsion from the elections.
Johansen said she hopes they can all work together.
“I want to use this holy month of Ramadan and this opportunity to extend my hand in peace to them,” she said. “I am the winner, but I don’t consider them as losers. We can work together because I don’t have all the ideas. I appeal for the anger to stop. In the next three months, we will be holding an extraordinary conference to map out the way forward and we will have a blueprint.”
Kallon was ruled out of the elections because he has not lived in the country for the required five-year period prior to the congress while the other candidates were disqualified because of a FIFA Code of Ethics contravention dealing with betting and gambling.
Nsekera, who has been head of the Burundi Association for the past nine years, made history last May by becoming the first woman in the 109-year history of FIFA to be elected to its executive committee.
“I will inspire women to believe they can lead and I will support women in member associations,” she said after the victory. “I am happy to be the first woman elected. It’s important for Africa, it’s important for Burundi and it’s important for women. I will push for more women to be elected and ask parents to let their daughters play soccer.”
A member of FIFA’s organizing committee for the 2008 and 2012 Olympic soccer competitions, Nsekera is also on the independent committee set up in 2011 to tackle corruption in FIFA and an International Olympic Committee member.
By RON FANFAIR