Australia's chance at FIFA's head table

Former Matilda’s vice-captain Moya Dodd is closer than ever to going where no Australian has been before - into a role on the FIFA Executive Committee.

Former Matilda-s vice-captain Moya Dodd is closer than ever to going where no Australian has been before - into a role on the FIFA Executive Committee (ExCo).

The chances of her walking those hallowed halls in Zurich may have increased three-fold this week, with the news that the single spot allocated to a female(since the 2012 Congress ) could be expanded to include three women on the ExCo.

FIFA, the all-powerful governing body of world football came into existence in 1904. It has 209 member associations and its promise is, “For the game. For the World”

For about 87 years then, you could happily assume that FIFA thought the game was only played by men, in a world inhabited solely by males.

Yet the wheels have turned - albeit at snail-s pace - and finally, 22 years after organising the first official Women-s World Cup(1991), the FIFA ExCo are making space at the top table for women to have their say.

Three female positions out of 27 committee members is still a massive gender imbalance, but realistically that-s probably in line, or even ahead of the global corporate norm.

At least FIFA are beginning to address that.

What began as a proposal at the 2011 FIFA Congress in Zurich to review the FIFA statutes and create one additional place on the Executive Committee for a female has, as of this week, become a proposal for a further two seats - and for Australia, a great chance of sitting in one of them, courtesy of Dodd.

In 2012, when the proposal was first approved, CAF-s Lydia Nsekera was co-opted to the sole female position on the ExCo, a tenure that is due to expire with the new round of elections.

The voting which takes place at the next FIFA Congress in Mauritius at the end of May, will see one female role elected for a four-year term, and if the proposal is passed by congress (as ExCo-backed proposals usually are) two additional seats, with candidates co-opted for a 12 month duration.

For regular positions on the Executive Committee the vote is taken by standing committee members, for these “women-s only” positions however, all 209 members will vote at the Congress.

So what are Dodd-s chances? Her CV is impressive.

Member FIFA Legal committee, Vice President of the Asian Football Confederation, Chair of the AFC Women-s Committee, Deputy Chair of the AFC Legal Committee, AFC Executive Committee member, as well as the AFC Organising Committee for the 2015 Asian Cup, Director at Football Federation Australia, Partner - Gilbert + Tobin Lawyers.

Dodd-s dance card is pretty full - and just in case you didn-t think that CV was well-rounded enough, she-s also a mum. And if things go to plan at the Congress in May, she will have to make room for one more line on that business card.

Her rivals for the position are also well received. The incumbent, CAF-s Lydia Nsekera is President of Burundi Football Association, also sits on the committee for the FIFA Women-s World Cup and the Organising Committee for the Olympic Football Tournaments.

CONCACAF-s Sonia Bien-Aime is the Secretary General of Turks and Caicos Islands Football Association, is on the Executive Committee of the Caribbean Football Union, Chairperson of the CFU Women-s Football Committee and a member of the FIFA U20 Women-s World Cup Organising Committee.

While the OFC put forward Paula Kearns, who is on the board of NZ Football after a stint as acting CEO in 2008. Kearns is a qualified Chartered Accountant with experience at PWC and Deloitte-s and also served a three-year term as CEO of Canoe Racing NZ.

Women-s football in Australia is ranked well above the calibre of the game in the home countries of the other nominees (Australia 9, New Zealand 21, Turks and Caicos Islands 130 and Burundi - yet to compete in a FIFA sanctioned match) and positions Dodd well to talk about elite progress and pathways in the women-s game.

Refusing to be drawn on whether Australia-s success might advance her cause, Dodd sees the quality of all the applicants as something to be celebrated.

“It-s great that there are women stepping forward in many parts of the world and I hope that the football world is taking note of their governance and interest in the game. It-s important that they tap into any resource, because it-s good for the game”.

Australia has a female Prime Minister and a female Governor General, so why not a female as the most powerful sports administrator in the land?