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'You're not, you can't, and I was always, I can, and I will': Isha Johansen on rise to FIFA's corridors of power

May 1, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 20.9%. 2 min read.

addresses the delagates at the 6th FIFA Women's Football Symposium at the Hyatt hotel on July 3, 2015 in Vancouver, Canada.

For Isha Johansen, a journey that began by helping to give kids displaced by war a semblance of a normal childhood, has led her to become the first West African woman elected to soccer's world governing body's FIFA council.

(CNN)For Isha Johansen, a journey that began by helping to give kids displaced by war a semblance of a normal childhood, has led her to become the first West African woman elected to the council of soccer's world governing body, FIFA.

As a football official Johansen has already had an eventful career -- she's the long-serving president of the Sierra Leone Football Association after her election in 2013.

"And I think that was the time it dawned on me that, you know, I think I can actually do something really big for my country through football. "

In 2013, Johansen stood in the Sierra Leone Football Association's presidential election.

In a drawn out legal and political saga, the sport's governing body FIFA refused to accept the removal from office that would accompany her indictment, and suspended Sierra Leone from world football, citing government interference.

With her British schooling and diplomat husband -- Arne Birger Johansen, the Norwegian Consul -- Isha Johansen has at times been cast in a negative light by some in the media in Sierra Leone, as if unrepresentative of her country and people.

Such persistence has now led Johansen to the top table in world football, with her election to the FIFA council.

Even though Johansen has the support of FIFA, in Sierra Leone she remains a lightning rod for criticism.

Long-time captain of Sierra Leone's national team, Mohamed Kallon, also ran for the presidency in 2013, and has since rowed publicly with Johansen -- amicably settled by all parties with the help of the country's public affairs ministry.

"I don't think in the last eight years we have played a complete league," says the former Inter Milan and Monaco striker, who like Johansen owns an eponymously named Sierra Leone football club.

"Football development in Sierra Leone, there's nothing good to write home about.

Johansen would counter such criticism by pointing to Sierra Leone becoming the first African country to introduce equal pay for its men's and women's teams.

While clear in his condemnation of how football is run in Sierra Leone, Kallon is positive about Johansen's election to the FIFA council, admitting she has faced unprecedented difficulties in her time in office.

In the eight years Johansen has been president of the Sierra Leone FA, no elections have taken place, and she admits this is an unusually long period.

Discussing the future of African football at the time of Motsepe's election, the FIFA President said, "I have already said it, and I say it again.

by summa-bot

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