KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- FIFA’s new secretary-general, Fatma Soumara, has announced the latest two appointments by president Gianni Infantino, three weeks before she takes up her new role with the world football federation.
Marco Villiger, who has played a key role over the past year as legal director, will become deputy secretary-general in charge of the new commercial/administrative sector;
Villiger’s switch, after his key role in keeping the FIFA ship afloat over the past storm-battered 12 months, contrasts with the sacking last week of Markus Kattner as financial director and interim secretary-general.
Splitting FIFA into two ‘pillars’ was one of the most positive and progressive ideas of Infantino, who was elected in succession to banned Sepp Blatter in February.
Previous secretary-general Jerome Valcke had opposed suggestions that FIFA would benefit from dividing sectional responsibilities.
Soumara confirmed the new appointments on her first visit to FIFA headquarters in Zurich when the Senegalese diplomat addressed staff after a management meeting with Infantino and senior administrators.
Her own appointment was announced two weeks ago by Infantino during FIFA Congress in Mexico. She is currently preparing to leave her current post as a United Nations co-ordinator in Nigeria ahead of taking up her role at FIFA on June 20.
Explaining the changes, she told staff: “To achieve our goals, we have decided to introduce an improved structure that will make FIFA more efficient and fit to its purpose of developing football everywhere.
“FIFA’s administration will be split into two dedicated pillars: one designed to generate financial returns and operating the administrative work that comes along with it, and another one focused on developing football and organising the competitions.”
Soumara also underlined her personal commitment to the reform process which suffered a major PR setback at congress with a regulatory change which wiped out a guarantee of independence to the judicial panels including the all-important ethics committee.
She said: “It is my goal to keep on putting the reforms into action and to help FIFA in its process of being recognised as an institution that is run under the principles of good governance, and one of which people may be proud.
“I cannot think of a more exciting job than this and I am happy to embark in this journey of bringing an inclusive agenda to FIFA and developing football for all. I want to help making FIFA a place where it is good to live.”
Infantino expressed his satisfaction with Samoura’s ‘debut’.
He said: “Ms Samoura has not even started in the job yet but it was great to see her already building a strong rapport with the team. I am enthusiastic about the positive impact that she can bring to the organisation with her ideas.”
Immediately after FIFA Congress Infantino brought in Kjetil Siem, who had been general secretary of the Norwegian federation, in charge of strategic affairs.