FIFA's decision to appoint supermodel Adriana Lima as an official 'Global Fan Ambassador' for the Women's World Cup has been met with criticism from former football administrators, players, and gender equality campaigners. Critics have called Lima's appointment "tone-deaf" and sends the wrong message to female athletes who want to be treated as equals to men.
Introducing the first FIFA Global Fan Ambassador 🙌
In this role, @AdrianaLima will develop, promote and participate in several global initiatives involving fans from all over the world!
— FIFA (@FIFAcom) February 27, 2023
FIFA President Gianni Infantino defended the decision, saying Lima "lives and breathes" football and would be an "excellent link" between FIFA and fans worldwide. However, Lima appears to have had no official involvement in the sport before now, and critics say there were better choices for the role.
For context, at the 2022 Men's World Cup in Qatar there were four 'Global Fan Ambassadors' - Tim Cahill, Samuel Eto'o, Cafu and Xavi Hernandez; all former footballers.
Former vice-captain of the Australian women's team, Moya Dodd, who once led FIFA's taskforce on the women's game, questioned the message Lima's appointment sends to female athletes. In a tweet, she wrote: "I'm staggered. What will this ambassador represent to the large and growing population of aspirational women football players and fans who love the game because it shows us what empowerment and equality can look like?"
Seriously, #FIFA, is this the fan engagement ambassador we need as the @FIFAWWC approaches? #tonedeaf https://t.co/a7O2WHRr6g pic.twitter.com/s2S6wvJmFx
— moya dodd (@moyadodd) February 28, 2023
Dodd also raised concerns about Lima's past comments, saying: "Adriana Lima has been quoted as saying that she starved herself for nine days before fashion shows, and that abortion is 'a crime'. This is a tone-deaf appointment by FIFA that raises questions about the organization's commitment to gender equality."
Dodd emphasized the importance of valuing female football players for their game-saving tackles and brilliant goal-scoring rather than their looks, and questioned why FIFA chose a supermodel as an ambassador for the Women's World Cup when they could have highlighted athletes playing at the tournament. She added: "Because when a girl plays football, the world sees her differently. Instead of being complimented on her nice looks or her pretty dress, she is valued for her game-saving tackles and brilliant goal-scoring."
Women Sport Australia, the peak body for gender equality campaigners in sport, echoed these concerns and said the Lima appointment was unnecessary. Women Sport Australia president Gen Dohrmann said: "It’s definitely a different approach to the men’s game. You would see Cristiano Ronaldo as the poster boy of the men’s World Cup, so why do we need a supermodel when we could choose Meg Rapinoe, or Sam Kerr, or someone who has international accolades in the sport we are actually promoting? That is the type of role model that should be at the front of this campaign."
#FIFA please say you’re not paying this supermodel more than the players get for being at the @FIFAWWC 🧐 @FIFPRO https://t.co/MORQVTbaQP
— Matildas Alumni (@MatildasAlumni) February 27, 2023