BUJUMBURA: FIFA’s first woman member of the governing executive committee has been replaced as president of her own Burundi football federation writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Lydia Nsekera, a member of the International Olympic Committee, lost by 31 votes to 25 to Senator Révérien Ndikuriyo in  a secret ballot conducted in front of observers Primo Corvarro and Foster Abega from the world federation and the Confederation of African Football.

The vote has no immediate effect on Nsekera’s membership of the FIFA exco. She was co-opted in 2012 in Budapest and then won a three-way election at congress this past May in Mauritius. At the time she was only female president of a national football association; Isha Johansen is now president of the Sierra Leone FA.

Australia’s Moya Dodd and Sonia Bien-Aime from Turks & Caicos, the two rival candidates, were both co-opted on to the FIFA executive.

Ndikuriyo, a senator with the ruling party in Burundi’s upper house, is a former rebel fighter and now president of  Black Eagle, a second division club in Burundi’s southeastern Makamba province.

The 46-year-old former basketball and high jump athlete had made no secret of her ambition to encourage more women leaders in national football, and as reportedly stepped down complaining of political interference.

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.”

The election had been delayed from last February because of disagreements between supporters of Nsekera and Ndikuriyo.