PARIS: In a major step forward for the ‘women in football’ movement, Nathalie Boy de la Tour has been elected as the first female president of the French Ligue de Football Professionnel writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Boy de la Tour, 48, will succeed Frederic Thiriez who stepped down after taking up a senior role with the new World Leagues Forum. She was proposed by powerful Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas.

She is the second French woman to take up a leading role in the game.

In May  49-year-old Florence Hardouin, director-general of the French federation,  became the first first elected female member of the executive committee of European federation UEFA.

Boy de la Tour was left as the sole candidate after the candidacy of former national team coach Raymond Domenech, proposed by the LFP’s newly-elected administrative council, was rejected by two-thirds of the General Assembly. Domenech is leader of France’s professional coaches’ union (UNECATEF).

Boy de la Tour, who will serve a four-year term as president, had becmme the first woman elected to the LFP council in 2013 and has served as director general of its football foundation for the past eight years.

She had been proposed by opponents of Domenech who did not want a professional from the game, whose background is working within the French federation, to “cross over” into the league system.

The league and federation have had a tetchy relationship under Thiriez and Noel Le Great respectively and one of Boy de la Tour’s priorities will be seek a more conciliatory tone.

She said: “This is not an election that was expected, but now I am very happy and I hope to live up to the expectations of the football family, clubs and the league. We must find a unique trust as there are important issues before us.

“I know professional football… and have been on the board of the LFP for three years now. I have worked many times with Didier (Quillot), (director general of the LFP) but now we need to leave a little time for us to meet and define the priorities to come.”

Thiriez, a director of the LFP since 1995, took over the presidency in May 2002 from Gerard Bourgoin and was re-elected in 2012.

She is the second woman to take a high-profile role in the French game.