Fatma Samoura is to step down as secretary general of FIFA at the end of 2023 after seven years in the role, it was announced by the world soccer governing body yesterday (June 14).
Senegal-born Samoura was appointed to the position in May 2016, becoming FIFA's first female and non-European secretary general.
She is credited by the organization with helping to “restore its credibility” and drive “new impetus” for the women’s game.
Samoura said: "It was the best decision of my life to join FIFA. I am very proud to have led such a diverse team. My first word of thanks goes to Gianni Infantino for giving me this dream job. He has shown trust, understanding, and an incredible level of support. It is a pleasure to work alongside someone that has transformed FIFA. FIFA today is a better governed, more open, more reliable, and more transparent organization. I will leave FIFA with a high sense of pride and fulfillment.
“I had intended to share my news first with the FIFA Council members next week, but I am aware there has been growing speculation about my position in recent months. For now, I am fully focused on the preparation and delivery of the upcoming Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
“I look forward to spending the next six months bringing to life the 11 objectives that president Infantino announced at the FIFA Congress in Kigali in March. From next year, I would like to spend more time with my family. I have been in love with football since I was eight years old, and I feel honored to have been on this journey.”
Samoura joined FIFA after more than two decades working for the United Nations, shortly after Infantino was elected as president for the first time.
Their appointments marked a line in the sand for the organization as it sought to move on from the rampant corruption seen under the previous president Sepp Blatter.
Samoura replaced the disgraced Jerome Valcke, who had been banned from soccer-related activity for 12 years in February 2016.
She oversaw a restructuring at FIFA, bringing in two deputy secretary generals and a chief compliance officer, setting up divisions for women's soccer and technical development, and delivering “improved programs for FIFA's 211 member associations.”
In 2019, she was parachuted into the Confederation of African Football continental governing body to take temporary control, the secondment coming to an end after six months in what was viewed as a successful effort to reform the organization, which was deemed to have severe governance issues.
Of Samoura’s departure from FIFA, Infantino said: “It has been a privilege and an honor to work with a trailblazer in the game. Ever since we met, I knew she would be superb for FIFA. Her passion and enthusiasm to drive change has been inspirational. Fatma was the first woman, and the first African, to be appointed to such an important position at FIFA.
“We respect Fatma's decision and I would like to thank her for such dedication and commitment to football. Fatma will continue to contribute towards the development of the game and its social values together with us.”