LAUSANNE: Lydia Nsekera, the first woman ever elected to the FIFA executive committee, is also moving up the hierarchy within the International Olympic Committee writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Nsekera, ousted last year as president of the Burundi football federation, has been appointed as chair of the women and sport committee of the IOC in a revamping of the Olympic movement’s ‘government’ by president Thomas Bach.

Two years ago Nsekera was co-opted on to the world football federation’s ruling exco as one of the first steps in a reform process which insisted on a woman being appointed.

Last year Nsekera was formally elected on to the exco by Congress when Moya Dodd of Australia and Sonia Bien-Aime of Turks and Caicos were also co-opted.

Nsekera had followed her father into football administration 12 years ago. By then she was director of a car repair business and she swiftly brought her love of sports and here business expertise to bear on Burundi football and the national Olympic committee.

In 2004, reluctantly, she took over as president of the Burundi football federation. The country’s football was in chaos: FIFA had frozen its annual grants because of corruption allegations and the league had been shut down for three years.


Nsekera turned around the administration – and attitudes.

As she has said: “We had women players, referees, women coaches but very few had reached positions of responsibility. There was also the issue of men’s attitudes. So I encouraged women in football.

“For example, I wanted to see women refereeing men’s first division matches so that is what we have achieved. I wanted to see them as presidents of leagues and clubs but not only women’s football clubs but men’s clubs too.”

Last year, however, she was narrowly ousted, by 31 votes to 25, by state senator Révérien Ndikuriyo.

Her progress within FIFA and now the IOC may give Burundi sports politicians pause to wonder if they had committed a costly own goal.