‘Lunch for the ladies’ - football’s laws body scores an all-male own goal

Fifa president Gianni Infantino acknowledged it was “wrong” that the annual laws of football meeting had only men taking the decisions.

Scotland manager Shelley Kerr serves on an IFAB advisory panel. Picture: Richard Sellers/PA

Fifa secretary general Fatma Samoura could not make the trip to Northern Ireland for yesterday’s International Football Association Board (IFAB) annual meeting so Infantino headed an all-male delegation from the world governing body.

The board also features the chief executives of the English, Northern Irish, Scottish and Wales FAs who were joined at the gathering by their presidents, who are also all men.

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“It’s wrong not to have a woman,” Infantino said. “We should look into that for the future maybe, ask everyone of us to have in its delegation at least one woman. I will certainly propose that.”

The glaring lack of female participation was highlighted in a group photo of wider IFAB meeting participants. There were 28 men, while IFAB senior legal counsel Simone Studer was the only woman.

Some delegates were accompanied by partners and a programme for the weekend trip to Holywood on the outskirts of Belfast indicated the assumption that women play a secondary role at IFAB.

The IFAB itinerary listing for 10am said “ladies depart for coffee at the Titanic Hotel, Belfast, followed by a tour of Titanic Belfast”, alongside a reference to the post-IFAB news conference. At 1.30pm, the programme stated, “ladies return by coach for lunch” at the hotel being used for the IFAB meeting.

IFAB is a 134-year-old board that sets the laws of the game. Its annual meeting locations typically rotate between England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Zurich, which is home to Fifa’s headquarters.

When IFAB met in Aberdeen in March 2019, female partners of delegates were taken to a flower-arranging class. The meeting in Wales in March 2016 saw wives and girlfriends taken to a cookery class while the men went to Swansea for a match against Norwich City.

Infantino, who has four daughters, regularly talks about the importance of his own household.

IFAB does have advisory panels which feature women, including Scotland manager Shelley Kerr and Welsh referee Cheryl Foster.

The news conference after the IFAB meeting was also dominated by male journalists, with only one female reporter attending.

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