Monday 27 November 2023, 19:00

FIFA Secretary General receives UCSA African Sports Award

  • Fatma Samoura honoured in recognition of her achievements as Secretary General

  • The African Sports Award is a celebration of excellence in sports across the African continent

  • Progress of African football and women’s football has been substantial over the past seven years

Fatma Samoura has received the UCSA African Sports Award as the Best Female Sports Personality in Africa in recognition of her achievements during more than seven years as FIFA Secretary General. The award was accepted on Ms Samoura’s behalf by FIFA Council member Isha Johansen in a ceremony at the Heliopolis Hilton Cairo, Egypt. The African Sports Award is a celebration of excellence in sports across the African continent, recognising sports teams, individuals, and organisations who have demonstrated exceptional talent, sportsmanship, and a positive impact on their respective disciplines and the entire international sports community. Appointed in 2016 and the first female, African and Muslim Secretary General in over a century of FIFA history, Ms Samoura has since worked tirelessly alongside President Gianni Infantino to rehabilitate FIFA’s image and increase transparency.

Fatma Samoura, General Secretary, FIFA pictured with a young girl during the Africa Subdivision Seminar and Inauguration of Forward Infrastructure Projects on July 28, 2022 at Estadio Municipal in Varzea, Cape Verde.

She has also been a staunch advocate for football in Africa with funding and support significantly increasing during Ms Samoura’s time at FIFA, especially through the FIFA Forward programme. Established in 2016 when Ms Samoura joined President Gianni Infantino at FIFA, the Forward programme has provided FIFA’s 211 Member Associations (MA) with funds to develop football-related projects in their country. Funding has increased seven-fold in the last seven years, and FIFA Forward 3.0 is expected to provide each MA with up to USD eight million over the coming four-year cycle. “I am deeply honoured to receive this award would like to share this award with all the people who have dedicated their lives to our game and helped us transform African football over the last few years, particularly when it concerns women's football,” said Ms Samoura. “I feel truly humbled to have my efforts singled out for recognition.

FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura with Indigenous kids from Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland duing the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Round of 16 match between England and Nigeria at Brisbane Stadium

“I am very proud of the support FIFA has given to the development of football in Africa in the last seven years. This will be evident at the next men's FIFA World Cup 2026™, where nine, or possibly 10, African teams will take part. “Just as importantly, we have given more girls and women the chance to play football, even in countries where it would have been considered almost impossible only a few years ago. And when women play football, it has an immediate impact on society. It empowers them and it raises their self-esteem.” Ms Samoura is highly passionate about women's football and her seven years at FIFA saw many positive changes. The FIFA Women's World Cup™ now has 32 teams and the 2023 edition in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand attracted nearly 2 million fans in the stadiums and 2 billion viewers worldwide. Prize money also increased around tenfold since the 2015 edition.

Additionally, the technical standard has improved with players better prepared physically, higher intensity matches and more teams capable of playing at the elite level. Over 180 of the 211 member associations have active national women’s teams compared to 136 in 2016 and FIFA is working to bring that figure up to 211. A Futsal Women’s World Cup will come into being and youth tournaments will be more regular. The FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup will be annual so a constant pool of talent will be coming through to senior levels.

Secretary General