FIFA aims to end gender inequality, aid women''s I-League

It's been almost a year since years of patriarchy had been broken at FIFA with the appointment of Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura as its Secretary General, a move that had been hailed as groundbreaking.

"Over the past few years FIFA has put in a lot of efforts into developing women's football and promoting gender equality. Our aim is to break down the gender barriers in football," Marion Mayer-Vorfelder, FIFA's head of events -- U-17 World Cup --, told PTI in an interview.

The influential sports body is lending a helping hand towards the growth of the women's game in India.

"They (AIFF) have been implementing FIFA's 'Live Your Goals' campaign for three years now and have reached out to thousands of female players.

"FIFA and the AIFF have also worked on capacity building to improve the level of the game, by organising coaching -- courses for coaches in women's football. In addition, the recently-launched women's league will be partially financed by FIFA forward funding over the next three years."

The German was in India to inspect the preparedness of the venues, chosen to host matches in the U-17 World Cup, and although an age-group event for boys only, she believed it plays an important role in achieving their objective.

"In 2015, FIFA launched the Female Leadership Development programme to identify, support and develop strong female leaders and role models in football, while advocating for women to access senior decision-making positions all over the world.

"The AIFF's women's football manager Indu Choudhary was part of the first edition of the programme that graduated in March 2016 in Amsterdam."

To name just a few issues, the women are behind their male counterparts in terms of funding, media hype and crowd turnout.

"There is still room for further improvement but providing opportunities for women and girls in football is one of FIFA's main development priorities and has been a key part of FIFA's reforms.

"Women within FIFA have always been involved in important projects and even more so now with our SG, who is a woman and a great supporter of gender equality."

Stating that the women's game has "definitely taken a huge step forward", Marion said her gender does not come in the way of her work at FIFA.

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