Moya Dodd: already a vice-president of the AFC

INTERVIEW by KEIR RADNEDGE —- One of the perceptions of the tarnished last World Cup bidding process was that Australia suffered by not having a member on the FIFA executive committee.

That attention deficit on behalf of the top football nation down under will be rectified if Moya Dodd has her way.

Dodd, a Sydney lawyer, is already making history as a female vice-president of Asian Football Confederation. She is unopposed to continue in that role when the AFC elections roll in Kuala Lumpur. That is her platform to seek the greal leap forward on to the FIFA exco at congress in Mauritius at the end of May.

Last year FIFA co-opted a first woman on to the exco in Burundi’s Lydia Nsekera. She is standing for election along with Dodd plus New Zealand’s Helen Kearns and Sonia Bien-Aime from Turks and Caicos.

All will believe in their chances. In a surprise move last month the FIFA exco voted to bring aboard not only the first elected woman but create two slots for co-opted women.

Given the turbulence in world football’s body politic over the last two years, the question is worth asking of why anyone would want to step up. Dodd has all the answers.

Why do you want to stand when neither organisation has the happiest of image right now?

I know a lot of good people in FIFA and the AFC who wake up every day and try to make the right decisions for the right reasons and I’d like to work within those spheres to try to make football better. As for all those who have a negative view about football’s governing bodies, I’ll like to make them reconsider and change their minds

What are the key points in your manifesto?

They’re all there on my website [] but, first of all, having played at grassroots level and up to international level – and then, sadly, back down again – the perspective of a player and someone who has loved the game from grassroots up is important in decision-making in football.

I already have experience on executive committees at national and international level. Also, I’ve been the first woman elected to both Football Federation Australia and the AFC and that, in itself, has taught me what you need to do to win respect and be able to make a contribution in those sorts of environments.

Then, I think I’ve got a professional background in law and in business that will bring something – principled and analytical decision-making – to the top table in FIFA.

As a lawyer you learn how to negotiate, which means building consensus around some kind of agreed action. That, too, is important in the world of football because it’s an amazingly diverse world which is also part of its challenge.

Are you ready for the specific attention you would receive, if elected, as a woman on the FIFA exco?

If it happens I’m prepared for it. InAustralianow we have a woman as governor-general, we have a woman as prime minister. There’s a lot of comment about gender but, to me, it’s really about doing a good job and working towards the day, one day, when gender is not a matter for comment.

I realise that day may be some way off.

Do you think there should be quotas for women on all main football committees?

I think football has recognised that its voting and governance structures mean it would be a very slow path for women to come up unless they create positions especially for females – and that’s what they’ve done.

Seats for female members are therefore a good step in the right direction. It’s time for women to be having a bigger role in decision-making in sports governing bodies around the world.  So I think that quotas can certainly accelerate positive outcomes.

I was the first woman elected to the AFC at a time when four positions were created for females; also, Australia had just joined the AFC so I was at the lucky intersection between these events. I don’t think I would be on the AFC exco if it were not for the female posts.

After all, certainly in Australia, we make up more than 20pc of the playing population and I’m sure more than that in terms of the whole economy of sport – who decides what sport the kids play, who takes them, who buys the products of the sponsors, who goes to matches to watch them, who watches television, who decides which channels to watch.

Women do have a huge role in all of that . . .

Of course. Look at the last 50 or so years and you’ve seen an irreversible trend of women taking a greater role in decision-making in authority.

Did people think a woman could be the boss in a factory or the ceo of a corporation or a prime minister? It was very rare for that to happen. Yet now I can do things my mother could never have dreamed of doing and I’m sure my kids will one day too. There will be a time when gender is not relevant to the opportunities there are. It’s an irreversible trend.

It feels slow but it’s been pretty rapid if you put it in a historical context.

Let’s look at it from the oher way round: Do you think the FIFA exco is ready for you?

There has been a woman co-opted since last year [Lydia Nsekera] so they’ve had a woman sitting at the top table. There are many women inside FIFA who do a great job so I don’t think its really all that new an experience.

I sit already on the legal committee of FIFA – I’m the only woman on that committee – but we’re in a modern world and it’s clearly time for women to be stepping into these roles.

Is it important that a woman exco member is elected this year rather than only co-opted, like Nsekera last year?

Yes, because elections are a democratic process and FIFA needs to be seen to be a democratic body.

But I wouldn’t criticise the decision to have co-opted a woman. After all, I was co-opted by [then president] Mohamed Bin Hammam on to he AFC exco in 2007 before I was elected in 2009 so I wouldn’t be in a position criticise.

Are you ready to stand up, if need be, against corruption?

I’m happy to stand on my track record in the AFC in doing what I think is the right thing at the right time.

How do you view the AFC presidental election – which comes first, of course?

It’s important for the AFC and for football in Asia that we have, and are seen to have, a robust and fair election process and, secondly, that after that date, once we have a new president, the Asian football community can get some consensus and unity behind that new president and begin to move forward as a strong confederation.


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