Moya Dodd, perhaps the most active and outspoken women involved in FIFA, has lost an election this week to FIFA’s 37-member council, which is FIFA’s decision-making body.
FIFA critics are already starting to question the woman who beat her out.
The Australian Dodd was defeated by Mahfuza Akhter Kiron of Bangladesh, who said she has been running Bangladesh's women's football program for years.
"This is like a dream come true," Kiron told the BBC. "I want to do something for Asian women's football. I am a sports organizer. For the last 10 years I worked with football and business."
Dodd, who pushed for sweeping changes in FIFA's governance structure after the high-profile arrests and investigations of numerous football executives in 2015, said the result was "disappointing" but declined to label the vote as a step back for reform.
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Quickly, critics raised concerns about the results of the election. Part of the ire drawn came from the fact that no female FIFA member has been as vocal or as active as Dodd has been in the past. Also: Kiron's knowledge of women's soccer has been called into question.
BBC journalist Mani Djazmi reported that Kiron did not appear to know that the United States are the reigning World Cup champions.
Dodd and Kiron were competing for one of the seats on the council guaranteed to women, a new standard that comes from a larger reform package to address the alleged corruption and bribery that led to a number of FIFA executives being arrested last year. New provisions require at least six women, one from each continent, will serve on the 37-member FIFA council. The logic behind it is good: Women on the council will advocate for women in the game.
The concern, however, is equally simple: Men are the ones voting in these elections, and they are more likely to vote for women who are compliant with the status quo than those who are demanding major changes on behalf of women in soccer.
As Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl pointed out, of the 211 federation presidents, 208 of them are men. Most of them are just happy with the way things are.
USWNT stars Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd were not pleased about the results of the election.
And yes, women do need to be better represented in FIFA, for FIFA has an often times embarrassing track record when it comes to handling and promoting the women's game.
There are the cringe-inducing examples, like when ex-FIFA president Sepp Blatter didn’t know who Marta, the greatest women’s soccer player in the world was. Or that time he suggested women could wear tighter shorts so women look more attractive when they play soccer.
But then there plenty of on-field examples as well, like the fact that the 2015 Women’s World Cup was played on artificial turf, which no men’s tournament has ever been. The prize money available for the teams at a Women’s World Cup is a tiny fraction of what the men earn, too. FIFA, which sits on a massive billion-dollar reserve of cash, has typically only steered a small fraction of its resources to developing women’s soccer in countries where the game is severely underdeveloped.
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For now, Dodd, who previously served on FIFA's former executive committee, has lost her position with FIFA. She currently serves on the board of the Australian federation.