Dhaka, May 13: Mahfuza Akhter Kiron being elected to FIFA’s top body bears much significance for the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) for a number of reasons said BFF technical director Paul Smalley.
BFF women’s committee president Kiron had been serving on the AFC executive committee when she ran for the reserved female seat on FIFA council from the Asian football body.
The Asian Football Confederation’s congress voted on four FIFA council positions on May 8 where Kiron ran agaist frontrunner Australia’s Moya Dodd winning with 27 votes to Dodd’s 17.
This is the first time that a Bangladeshi has got into the top FIFA body. Smalley says,“Nothing like this has ever happened in Bangladesh and is unlikely to happen in near future.”
The Englishman thought getting elected to the helm of FIFA was an extraordinary feat for a Bangladeshi and that too a woman. “It will certainly leverage football and bring forth women’s football in Bangladesh.”
Kiron’s work at the FIFA Council, which governs the global development of football, will impact almost 300 million people actively involved in the game.
Besides dealing with global football strategy in the context global polity and commercial interests, the FIFA Council oversees overall management of FIFA by the general secretariat, and appoints or dismisses chairpersons, deputy chairpersons and members of standing committees except those elected by the Congress.
Such success as part of an overall football development strategy only underscores the importance of planning and conviction, said Paul Smalley. “The BFF will thus become a shining example to other countries in the sense that a country like Bangladesh can also get elected to the top body.”
In the context of the rough waters that FIFA has had to come across in the last two years, Smalley said the new representatives at its top level also offered the global football body a chance to move forward. “FIFA is going through changes and the new batch of people there will only help them get through.”
He said this was as much a chance for FIFA to move forward as it was for BFF pursue football development goals with renewed vigour.
Although considered the underdog Mahfuza Akhter Kiron, who has involved in with Bangladesh’s sports scene as an organiser for over 20 years, beat the main contender Australia’s Moya Dodd for a seat on the FIFA Council reserved for an Asian woman for a term through 2019.
Although four women had expressed their interest in the reserved seat, the Palestinian and North Korean candidates withdrew their candidacy on the morning of the election turning it into a head-to-head between Dodd and Akhter.
Of 45 eligible voters, 1 vote was considered invalid. Kiron bagged 27 of the 44 valid votes.
President of BFF, Kazi Salahuddin congratulated Kiron over the historic win. “This is a landmark victory for Bangladesh football and I would like to thank all the member associations for their support. This is the first time Bangladesh got a position in the FIFA Council and we believe our football would benefit a lot.”
FIFA President Gianni Infantino congratulated Kiron for her victory. “I am convinced that, as FIFA Council member, you will be able to bring your outstanding contribution to FIFA, but most importantly to the development of our beautiful game, which we both love so much.”
Kiron promised to work her best to solve the concurrent issues in Asia’s women’s football. “I will raise and solve the concurrent and long awaiting issues of women’s football in Asia, especially in the South Asian region. I am grateful to the Bangladesh Football Federation for their all-out support and cooperation.
Currently, Kiron is renowned for her all round presence in the sports scenario in Bangladesh and in international arena. She is currently a member of the FIFA Member Associations Committee. In addition to that, she is an Executive Committee Member of AFC and a member of the AFC Women’s Committee.
Formerly, she was the organizing committee member of the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup Football. Other than that, she had worked as the Deputy Chairman of the South Asian Football Federation Women’s Committee and was a member of the Athletics Committee of the Olympics Council of Asia (OCA).
Kiron ran for the FIFA with a pledge to standardize player development to ensure similar levels of footballing performance across the countries, develop collaboration through workshops and forums, increase funding through better sponsorships of women’s football, introduce a different competition structure, ensure education and development for referees and coaches and other officials.
Kiron has also pledged to look into women’s wages which are consistently lower than that of the men’s wages and also explore how to ensure that former players are not forced out of the game for lack of career opportunities which would eventually help women’s football retain its expertise and experience.
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