Former footballer in global list of influential women

Former Samoan representative player Sarai Bareman has made it on to the global list of the 11 most influential women in soccer in 2020.

Born and raised in New Zealand and of Samoan and Dutch descent, Bareman played soccer for Samoa and later went on to become Football Federation Samoa’s Chief Executive Officer, a position that she held for six years.

Returning to New Zealand, she took up a role at the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and was later promoted to OFC Deputy Secretary General, opening the door for her to join the FIFA 2016 Ethics Committee.

In October 2016 the FIFA announced her appointment as the Chief Women’s Football Officer, overseeing the newly created Women’s Football Division within FIFA, reporting directly to the FIFA Deputy Secretary General Zvonimir Boban and becoming part of the FIFA Management Board.

Bareman has been credited with leading the development of the first ever global strategy for women’s soccer for FIFA that was launched in 2018, and played a critical part in the success of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. 

In an interview with the New Zealand Herald, the former FFS Chief Executive said she was honoured to have made the list this year. 

“It’s a huge honour,” she told the New Zealand Herald from the FIFA headquarters in Zurich.

“What’s important to me is it’s recognising really fantastic people who have done a lot of work over many years and I’m humbled and honoured to be considered amongst them.”

Bareman is one of three executives on the list. The inaugural Best XI list includes three players – Megan Rapinoe, Marta Vieira da Silva, and Wendie Renard; one coach – Jill Ellis; one referee – Bibiana Steinhaus; one owner – Jean-Michel Aulas; three executives – Kelly Simmons, Moya Dodd, and Sarai Bareman; one journalist – Meg Linehan; and one activist – Khalida Popal.

But it is not the first time for Bareman to make such a list, as last year she was named one of 10 people on the planet who had the greatest influence on sport in 2019, by the London-based sports business magazine Sportspro

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