KUALA LUMPUR: The Asian football confederation has sought to come to the rescue of Mahfuza Akhter Kiron after the disastrous opening to her term as a member of world federation FIFA’s governing council, writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Mahfuza, comparatively unknown on the international stage beyond her native Bangladesh, was a surprise in an AFC Congress vote ahead of Australian Moya Dodd.
However her celebration was spoiled immediately when she needed three attempt before being able to answer a question from a BBC journalist abut the identity of the Women’s World Cup.
Now the AFC has issued a media release seeking to make amends by listng Mahfuza’s work and achievements in the game and, belatedly, her ambitions in office.
A statenent said: “Mahfuza was the first graduate from the FIFA Female Leadership Programme to make the journey to the FIFA Council. In addition, she has also completed the UEFA Leadership Programme as well as being recognised in her native Bangladesh with a special award in April for her contribution to the development of women’s sport. ”
In fact her election attracted few headlines in Bangladesh because of a standoff between Mahfuza and local sports journalists.
The AFC quoted her as saying: “It is a tremendous honour for me to be elected as the first Bangladeshi ever on FIFA’s ruling body. It is a wonderful moment for not only Bangladesh but also for the south zone of the AFC.
“We have around a third of the world’s population in the South Zone and it is important that they have a voice at the top table of sport – especially as football is developing rapidly in countries like India and my own Bangladesh.
“I have been particularly pleased at the development of women’s football in the region and proud of the progress that the Bangladesh women’s team has made.”
Mahfuza chairs the Bangladesh Football Federation women’s wing and was the deputy chair of the South Asian Football Federation Women’s Wing.
She was also a member of the organising committee for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea last year which was won by North Korea. She is a member of the Bangladesh FF executive committee was a member of the Bangladesh national team at the South Asian Games in Dhaka in 2010.
The AFC said she became involved in sport in 1996 when she joined the Bangladesh Women’s Sports Council, subsequently serving as an executive committee member and general secretary.
She said: “I moved from being a sport fan to being an administrator because I wanted to eliminate the barriers to women taking part in sport. That and developing women’s sport remains my objective in football.”