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The honorary list of the Most Powerful Women in International Sports includes disruptors of soccer’s centuries-old boys’ club, C-Suite executives leading multinational sports associations, and athletes demanding the right to be get paid equally and that the gender pay gap is closed once and for all.
The place at the top belongs to Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura of Senegal, the first female secretary general of FIFA, soccer's international organizing body who is in charge of the world’s most popular sport and the World Cup. She was appointed in the year 2016, after her predecessor was removed amidst of an ethics investigation, Samoura, the second-most-powerful person in world soccer, behind FIFA president Gianni Infantino who leads the commercial and operational part of the organization. What FIFA expected its 2015-18 budgeted revenue, which included television broadcasting rights, marketing rights, and licensing rights, to exceed $5.6 billion.

“My appointment in 2016 was a very strong signal that FIFA, a male-dominated organization, was opening itself to more diversity,” Samoura said when enquired about how her stand was changing mindsets about the role of women in sports and women in top leadership positions. “For some good reason, it has not been an isolated case because we now have a much stronger women representation at all levels of FIFA administration.”

There are two more women in soccer who round out the top three on the list. Lydia Nsekera of Burundi became the first woman elected to the FIFA Executive Committee in 2013— the group has since molded into the FIFA Council — and since 2009, she has taken hold on the International Olympic Committee. She is a leading voice for both the organizations creating policies that stand to improve and protect gender equality in sports around the world.

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