KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS —- Sonia Bien-Aime will make history on July 20 when she joins the FIFA executive committee as the first woman elected to a seat at the world game’s top table in her own right in the organisation’s 111 years.
Bien-Aime, president of the Turks & Caicos Islands Football Association, has been appointed by CONCACAF to fill the seat left vacant by the dismissal of Eduardo Li after the Costa Rican federation leader’s arrest in Switzerland in May at the request of the United States Justice Department.
Burundi’s Lydia Nsekera was the first woman voted on to the FIFA exco in 2013, after a year as a co-opted member, but that was to a position created and reserved specifically for a women’s football representative. Also in 2013, at the Mauritius congress, Bien-Aime and Australia’s Moya Dodd were co-opted on to the exco but, as such, did not have a vote.
Bien-Aime and Dodd had their co-opted roles extended at FIFA Congress in Zurich in May.
Now, however, the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football has selected Bien-Aime to serve in a full voting role on the FIFA exco alongside interim CONCACAF president Alfredo Hawit of Honduras and United States Soccer Federation head Sunil Gulati.
Bien-Aime’s appointment representing the Caribbean zone was confirmed by the confederation’s own executive meeting in Vancouver at the conclusion of the Women’s World Cup.
“Sonia has the full confidence of the CONCACAF executive committee and we are delighted for her to represent our confederation on FIFA’s executive committee,” said Hawit. “She has demonstrated her significant leadership as a member of the CONCACAF executive committee and will bring a diverse and fresh perspective to FIFA on how to promote and advance the game around the world.”
Hawit took over as president of CONCACAF after the sacking of Cayman Islands’ Jeffrey Webb after he – like Li – was arrested by Swiss authorities two days before FIFA Congress in Zurich. They are among seven men being held in jail in and around Zurich facing extradition applications in the corruption case being prepared by the FBI and US tax authorities.
The first opportunity for Bien-Aime to vote on the FIFA exco will come at the meeting on July 20 which will decide the date of the extraordinary congress to vote in a successor to Sepp Blatter as president.
Bien-Aime said: “My selection to the FIFA executive committee with full voting rights is a ground-breaking decision by CONCACAF that demonstrates our confederation’s commitment to be forward-thinking and our ability to make bold, yet reasoned, decisions.
“My goal is to represent the best interest of the Confederation, while contributing to the objectives of FIFA as we all take collective strides to develop and grow the game that we love.”
Bien-Aime is deputy chair of the organizing committee for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup and a member of the organizing committee for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, the committee for women’s football and the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
As a member of CONCACAF’s exco, she has served on the Gold Cup committee and women’s football committee.
CONCACAF has described her “a keen supporter of advancing the Confederation’s initiatives in the grassroots development of women’s football, including the CONCACAF Under-15 Girls’ Championship, the successful Let’s Develop Women’s Football Seminar, and the first-ever Women’s Football Day on May 23, 2015.”
She captained the Turks & Caicos Islands women’s team and then, in 2006, was appointed general secretary of TCIFA, and became the first woman elected to an executive post in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) in 2012.