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Three women to represent European player unions on global FIFPRO board

FIFPRO is moving towards an ever more diverse global board with the selection of three women board members.

Karin Sendel, Mila Hristova and Caroline Jonsson were voted onto the new global board by European unions along with Lucien Valloni and Dejan Stefanovic during a two-day assembly in Limassol, Cyprus.

Under new statutes approved in February, the FIFPRO board will expand to 18 from 13 members in November with no more than two-thirds from either gender. The vote was the first part of a board selection process that culminates in November.

Player unions from Africa, Asia and the Americas will nominate at least one female board member each in the coming weeks.

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From left to right: Mila Hristova, Karin Sendel, Dejan Stefanovic, Lucien Valloni and Caroline Jonsson

Sendel is Israel’s national team captain, Mila Hristova is vice-president of the Association of Bulgarian Footballers, and Jonsson is a former Sweden goalkeeper who has already served on the global board since her 2017 election.

Swiss lawyer Lucien Valloni, a current board member, and retired player Dejan Stefanovic, a former board member, will be part of the new board. They lead the Swiss Association of Football Players and the Slovenian player association SPINS, respectively.

“We are delighted to see the evolution of the board that will continue to bring not only people of deep expertise and experience but also different ages, genders and ethnicity,” FIFPRO General Secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann said. “It is crucial that both our board – and executives across professional football – can truly identify with and represent all players.”

Bobby Barnes, President of FIFPRO Europe, said the global player union is “ahead of the curve” in professional football. “Diversity is something we’ve all been championing and we are now not just talking about it but actually seeing it in action,” Barnes said. “The new board members will bring a different perspective.”

“I hope I can bring the voice of the players from all the different backgrounds”

— by Karin Sendel, FIFPRO global board member

Sendel, the first woman to chair the Israel player association, was one of 14 participants in the ‘Ready to Board’ program that FIFPRO organized with U.K.-based Women in Football this year to prepare women for senior positions in football.

“There’s so much research around the world showing that boards that are more diverse create better decision-making,” Sendel said. “Being an active player, I will bring new ideas to the table: I hope I can bring the voice of the players from all the different backgrounds.”

To complete the selection process in line with FIFPRO statutes, the player associations of England, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain – some of the longest-serving FIFPRO members - will each nominate a representative at a general assembly in November.

Each FIFPRO division also has its own board. At the meeting in Limassol, European player unions also selected the following to the FIFPRO Europe board: Fraser Wishart (Scotland), Marketa Haindlova (Czech Republic), Mirko Poledica (Serbia) and Spyros Neofytides (Cyprus).