The head of women’s football in Somalia has urged Fifa to take action after claiming money made available by the world governing body to support the women’s game in her country is not reaching its intended target. Shaima Mohamed, who has been almost single-handedly pushing the cause of women’s football in one of the world’s most volatile nations, told the Guardian: “I have no idea where the money goes.”
Every national federation is entitled to money from Fifa, with $100,000 of the $500,000 available for operational costs ringfenced for women’s football, while additional money is available for travel to women’s tournaments and for special projects which can be related to women’s football. The Somali federation has not responded to requests for comment.
Mohamed believes federation members are unwilling to back the women’s game because they fear extremists who oppose it. “[They] would have sat down and talked about it and I think they are scared for their lives,” she said. “But they are also responsible to help Fifa’s vision for women’s football.”
The women’s football department at the Somali FA is in effect inactive. Mohamed said the federation gave her an official title but turned down her request for an office, equipment and a rent-free field for training. Girls and women continue to play, notably at the Golden Club academy in Mogadishu, which Mohamed founded and runs. “We do fundraising to support the teams,” she said. “We do social media campaigns. We get contributions from the community but we don’t have a specific budget that comes to us every year. I have no idea where the money goes. I have no idea if the federation has sent details of my role and information to Fifa. We need formal recognition for Somalia women’s football.”
She called on Fifa to step in. “They should do more to ensure we are receiving our funding,” she said. “Fifa needs to do more accountability with every federation in Africa to see if the women’s funding is being spent on women’s football or something else. “Fifa could also do more by improving direct communications with the women’s football department. I understand the federation can’t do much for women’s department since they are scared for their lives but they can give us a little support until we can stand on our feet because we are willing to take the risk and we are ready to fight for what we want.”
A Fifa source told the Guardian that it had been made aware of the issues and would be making efforts to meet Mohamed to discuss the situation. “A small amount of the SFFs Forward funds have been used in the 2016-18 cycle for women’s football and women’s refereeing in the region,” Fifa said. “But we expect a greater commitment to be made in the new year with a dedicated Forward project for women’s football. We also understand that the SFF will appoint a new team to advance women’s football in Somalia. To that end the FIFA Regional Development Office in Addis Ababa will meet with the SFF soon to discuss the SFF’s plans.