KEIR RADNEDGE in BUDAPEST: Comparatively unnoticed among the failure of rabid self-interest to keep Kosovo out of UEFA at the European federation’s congress here was the success of Florence Hardouin of France in becoming the first elected female member of its executive committee.
Hardouin, the 49-year-old director-general of the French football federation, defeated Norway’s Karen Espelund by 33 votes to 21 which must have come as a personal blow to the Norwegian after all her hard work on behalf of the women’s game in her four years as a co-opted member.
Various explanations buzzed around delegates rushing back to their hotel to change for dinner as guests of the Hungarian federation. All were political.
Hardouin’s election means that, if Michel Platini fails to overturn his world football ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, then France will continue to boast a place at European football’s top table.
Also, the vote represented an illustration of the gap in governance attitude and approach between the balanced scepticisim of the Nordic nations and the enthusiastically club-able southern Europe.
The south, of course, holds the majority and can often team up with the Russian-controlled far east when it comes to voting.
Hence there may be comparisons to be drawn between the 33 votes secured by Hardouin and the 24 which very nearly prevented Kosovo’s long-awaited accession to the football family.
The first question for Hardouin at a news conference after congress was whether she would now want the French federation to propose her for the European women’s place on the reformed and expanded FIFA Council.
“I am not Wonder Woman,” she said, preferring to talk of the tasks ahead of her in the European game which included a focus on the financial aspect of women’s football. But then, this was not a denial either.
The situation is this: every six confederations must include a designted woman among their delegates to FIFA Council which is scheduled to meet in full session for the first time in October.
Before the end of May Europe’s FAs must propose candidates; this is so that FIFA’s audit and compliance bodies can have the full four months demanded to undertake the necessary integrity checks.
UEFA’s national associations must then meet by September at the latest, in extraordinary session, to elect their FIFA Council women’s delegate.
Of course, if Platini fails to overturn his ban, that extraordinary session might also be voting for a new president of UEFA, too.