Fifa’s appointment of supermodel Adriana Lima as its first global fan ambassador five months before the Women’s World Cup is “tone deaf”, says former Fifa council member Moya Dodd.
Brazilian Lima will “develop, promote and participate in global initiatives” before the World Cup, which starts on 20 July in Australia and New Zealand.
Fifa president Gianni Infantino said Lima “lives and breathes ‘futebol'”.
“When a girl plays football, the world sees her differently,” Dodd said.
“Instead of being complimented on her nice looks or her pretty dress, she is valued for her game-saving tackles and brilliant goal-scoring.
“She’s admired for what she can do, rather than how she looks, putting her on a more equal footing with her brothers in a way that can alter the whole trajectory of her life’s ambitions.
“In a Fifa World Cup year, that’s the message that should be ringing loud and true around the world. Where a supermodel fits into this is truly baffling.”
Dodd, a former Australia international who served on the committee for Australia and New Zealand’s successful bid to co-host the World Cup, said Lima’s public image was an “odd fit for an organisation that says it wants to empower girls and women”.
“I asked whether the Fifa ambassador will be delivering messages on body image, wellbeing and healthy eating,” Dodd added in a post on LinkedIn on Wednesday.
“What will this ambassador represent to the large and growing population of aspirational #womensfootball players and fans who love the game because (it) shows us what empowerment and equality can look like?”
Dodd, a member of the Fifa Council from 2013 to 2016, also referred to comments Lima made in a 2006 interview with GQ magazine in which she said abortion was “a crime”.
Lima’s publicist Laurent Boye said the model’s stance had changed: “We can proudly say that Ms Lima has been promoting a healthy lifestyle for several years and like many people, her position on many LGBTQIA+ and women issues has evolved and she is considered an ally.”
In the statement announcing Lima’s appointment, Infantino said: “When you get to meet Adriana, you feel right away her warmth, kindness, and how approachable and passionate she is about our game.
“She lives and breathes ‘futebol’ and that is also why she can be an excellent link between Fifa and fans worldwide.”