KEIR RADNEDGE in ZURICH: If Sheikh Salman wins the FIFA presidency on Friday one of his priorities will be to try to find a woman to fill the crucial new role of chief executive.
The Bahraini head of the Asian football confederation issued his intention in answering a survey which the Women in Football pressure group had sent to all five candidates for the succession to Sepp Blatter.
Reform proposals being set before congress on Friday in Zurich include a restructuring which would see a ceo become perhaps the most powerful individual in the world governing body.
Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino were the only two candidates to answer all specific submitted questions.
Jerome Champagne apologised for not answering “due to time constraints” while Prince Ali bin Al Hussein and Tokyo Sexwale did not respond.
If he wins his presidency will also be measured against his responses to Women in Football.
Sheikh Salman noted that, during his three years at the head of the AFC, it had introduced a quota for women members on its executive committee – though he omitted to mention that this was at a cost of ‘losing’ a woman vice-president.
In terms of women in senior roles throughout the world game, he also promised “programmes and procedures that empower women.”
Sheikh Salman added: “No doubt it would set a clear signal if I were to find a high-powered woman ceo for FIFA, which is certainly something I would actively pursue if elected.”
FIFA, he said, could not afford “to repeat the mistakes of its forefathers with largely old white men or for that matter in the new order, old white women and men appointed to the top table.
“The women and men appointed must also come from more diverse backgrounds based on gender, ethnicity, disability and so on.”
Infantino, in answering the same questions, offered the sort of positive responses to be expected from his tenure at UEFA.
He said: “I want to see intensified efforts to promote the women’s game and ensure more diversity at FIFA HQ, and that includes employing more talented women, including in leading positions.
“I will be committed to strengthen gender equality, promote the advancement of women and improve the resourcing of women’s football.
“I want FIFA to set a trend that can spread in the confederations and national aAssociations to start with and then everywhere where there is some sort of football organisation.”