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WATCH: Sarai Bareman, Chief Women’s Football Officer at FIFA

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Leadership from Lockdown

At a special early time this week, we were thrilled to welcome live from Zurich: Sarai Bareman, Chief Women’s Football Officer, FIFA

07.30 – 08.15am NZT, Friday 24 April 2020

WATCH NOW: (please note about a 20sec delay until we speak, waiting for the audience to dial-in)

FIFA, World Rugby and the International Cricket Council (ICC) jointly sounded an alarm last week as to the potential impact of COVID-19 on the growth of women’s sport globally, in terms of participation, system-build and ongoing investment. Women’s football in particular has seen stunning growth in recent years, with last years’ FIFA Women’s World Cup in France attracting over 1 billion broadcast viewers and 1 million live fans. All over the world, countries are in varying forms of lockdown or promoting control measures such as physical distancing, affecting sport indefinitely. We were privileged to have the opportunity to talk to Sarai Bareman about this challenge, and understand how she and her team are working to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on women and girls in football. 

Sarai heads the Women’s Football Division as a member of FIFA’s Management Board, implementing the Women’s Football Strategy in conjunction with FIFA’s 211 member associations. This aims to grow participation, enhance commercial value and build on the foundations of the game, all while leveraging the societal benefits of football. In 2019, Sarai was at the helm of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, the most successful edition of the tournament to date with more the 1 billion broadcast viewers worldwide, and stadium spectators totalling more than 1 million fans. Born in Auckland, New Zealand to a Samoan mother and Dutch father, Sarai’s passion for football started as a young girl. Encouraged to play by her father, a coach, she eventually represented the Samoan women’s national team. After a career in the banking and finance industry in New Zealand, she worked at national association level as the CEO of the Football Federation Samoa. In July 2014, she back moved to New Zealand to take up the position of Deputy General Secretary at the Oceania Football Confederation. In 2015, Sarai was appointed as the sole female member of the FIFA Reform Committee and went on to be named FIFA’s first ever the Chief Women’s Football Officer in 2016.

Read some of the media coverage post-interview:

This week’s moderator: journalist and commentator, Rikki Swannell!

After a fantastic effort moderating week one and two for this new series, we were thrilled to welcome Rikki back again for week three!

Rikki has been a sports broadcaster for 15 years, and now works in a freelance capacity as a commentator and reporter. She can largely be heard on Sky Sport, where she is a regular commentator on netball, rugby and tennis, and on the World 7s series, working for World Rugby. She started her career as a journalist at Radio Sport and Newstalk ZB and has covered everything from snooker and darts, to cricket and rowing, Olympic and Commonwealth Games and various World Cups. Since going it alone in 2016, Rikki has diversified to become an accomplished event MC, long form print and online writer, media advisor and trainer and web copy-writer. She has a keen interest in the business of sport, governance and media issues. Rikki has kindly provided her services free, to help this series.

Those interested in working with Rikki should contact her on We highly recommend her!

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