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FIFA co-opts first woman to its executive committee

May 26, 2012 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Burundi's Lydia Nsekera is becoming an influential figure with both FIFA and the International Olympic Committee.
Burundi's Lydia Nsekera is becoming an influential figure with both FIFA and the International Olympic Committee.
  • Burundi's Lydia Nsekera co-opted to FIFA Executive Committee
  • Nsekera first woman member of the world governing body's decision making body
  • South Sudan admitted as FIFA's 209th member
  • Decision delayed on whether to allow Kosovo to play friendly matches

(CNN) -- Burundi's Lydia Nsekera became the first woman to be co-opted on to FIFA's executive committee as the Congress of the world governing body ratified her appointment Friday.

The 45-year-old Nsekera is currently president of the Burundi Football Association and is also a member of the International Olympic Committee.

The former basketball player and high jumper has made a rapid rise through the ranks of sports administration since becoming involved in the running of a women's football team in 2001.

A graduate of the University of Burundi, Nsekera has been a member of the organizing committee for the Olympic football tournaments and has been widely credited with reforming her own football federation after years of turmoil.

Her appointment comes as FIFA embarks on a reform program in the wake of recent corruption scandals.

A campaigner for women's rights, Nsekera is keen to be a role model for others to follow.

"Women have to understand that they have a role to play off the pitch, that they can easily take on responsibilities and become leaders. Men need to accept that too," she told

"In Africa, no one thinks that women are cut out to be leaders, especially in football. So it's been a long process for me to find acceptance," she added.

The FIFA Congress sitting in Budapest, also admitted South Sudan Friday as its 209th member.

The decision comes just under a year after it declared independence and joined the United Nations.

South Sudan and Sudan have been involved in a lengthy conflict, but peace talks between the two nations are due to resume next week.

But FIFA delayed a decision on whether to permit non-FIFA member Kosovo to play friendly matches against member federations.

FIFA's executive committee had given Kosovo the go-ahead earlier this week, but Serbia launched a protest at the move.

Kosovo is a former Serb province and that fought a two-year battle for independence.

It is still not recognized by Serbia.

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