FIFA secretary general, top female official, Fatma Samoura to depart after 7 years

FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura will stay in her role through the Women's World Cup this summer. CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP via Getty Images

FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura is leaving after seven years as the highest-profile woman working in world soccer, the governing body said Wednesday.

Samoura will stay in the job she has held since 2016 through the Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand this July and August and will leave at the end of the year, FIFA said.

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"FIFA today is a better governed, more open, more reliable and more transparent organisation. I will leave FIFA with a high sense of pride and fulfilment," Samoura said in a statement.

"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."

The 60-year-old former United Nations official from Senegal was an unexpected hire seven years ago soon after the election of Gianni Infantino as FIFA president.

She became the first woman, first Black person, first Muslim and first non-European to be FIFA's top administrator.

However, Infantino's hands-on style as an executive president has meant Samoura has often struggled to establish a clearly defined public role in the $2 million-a-year job.

"Fatma was the first woman, and the first African, to be appointed to such an important position at FIFA," Infantino said.

"We respect Fatma's decision and I would like to thank her for such dedication and commitment to football."

Samoura's time in FIFA included helping oversee men's World Cups played in Russia and Qatar, plus awarding the 2026 edition that will be played in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

She also oversaw the restructuring of FIFA, which included appointing two deputy secretary generals and creating a new women's football division.

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.