Executive forewords

A message from Fatma Samoura

A message from Fatma Samoura FIFA Secretary General 2016-2023

Joining FIFA was the best decision of my life. I am immensely proud to have been its first female Secretary General and the first non-European to hold the post, and to have helped transform the organisation to such an extent that it is now respected by world leaders and has become a valued partner for numerous United Nations agencies and other international organisations. The invitation for me to join FIFA in 2016 took me completely by surprise, and I have to say that I could never have imagined that I would leave the United Nations after 21 years to serve football. It was certainly not easy, especially at the start when, under the leadership of the new FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, we successfully worked to overhaul the whole structure of the organisation to make sure it was more productive and efficient, and to ensure that every cent of our revenue went where it was supposed to go – to growing and developing football around the world. One of our first decisions was to split the administration into two pillars, each with its own Deputy Secretary General: one dedicated to administrative and financial matters and one to developing football and organising competitions. We introduced a new and fully developed Women’s Football Division, a Technical Development Division (which has since evolved into the Global Football Development Division), a Chief Legal & Compliance Officer, and improved programmes for FIFA’s 211 Member Associations. FIFA is also a much more diverse organisation than it was before my arrival, with a workforce comprised of more than 70 different nationalities and where over 40% of our staff are female.

I will always be grateful to President Infantino for giving me this unique opportunity and showing me so much trust and understanding, as well as offering me such incredible support.

Fatma Samoura
FIFA Secretary General 2016-2023

But my main motivation for joining FIFA was that, working in zones of conflict with the United Nations, I had witnessed football’s power to transform lives, especially those of women and girls, and I believed I could help harness this potential. That is why I am especially proud of our record with women’s football. We launched the first-ever FIFA Women’s Football Strategy in 2018, including the aim to double the number of girls and women who play football worldwide to 60 million by 2026 – a target we are well on the way to reaching. The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 was a resounding success, but it was the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, a tournament of many firsts, the first to feature 32 teams with an estimated two billion people engaged with the tournament around the world, record attendances and viewing audiences, higher playing standards and more countries capable of competing at the highest level, which transformed the sport. Together, we fulfilled a target I set back in 2017: to show that women’s football could stand on its own two feet financially. The pace of change is nothing short of breathtaking, and though I have now left FIFA, I am very confident that momentum will continue to build around diversity and inclusivity. Because FIFA changed fundamentally in my seven years there, because FIFA now has the determination to make change in football, and use football to make positive change in society. I will always be grateful to President Infantino for giving me this unique opportunity and showing me so much trust and understanding, as well as offering me such incredible support. I thank everyone at FIFA with all my heart and wish you all the best for a future in which Football Unites the World.


Fatma Samoura


FIFA Secretary General ad interim's foreword

FIFA Secretary General ad interim Mattias Grafström summarises the achievements and milestones reached by FIFA in 2023.

Looking ahead

A look ahead to the FIFA events and tournaments taking place in 2024.