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Interview with FIFA's Women's Football Competitions Manager - Gianluca Famigli.

Roger Hampel


Gianluca Famigli and Tazuni - the Official Mascot of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.


The FIFA Women's World Cup 2023, currently underway in Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20, marks a significant milestone in the sport's history. This ninth edition of the championship, being co-hosted by two countries for the first time, is setting a new precedent for global sporting events.


The tournament features 32 teams, split into eight groups of four, engaging in fierce competition across ten stadiums in nine cities. The tournament, which began in Auckland, will conclude with an anticipated thrilling final match in Sydney.


In light of this, I, Roger Hampel, secured an exclusive interview with Gianluca Famigli - FIFA's Women's Football Competitions Manager. Our discussion is a deep dive into the many unique aspects of this World Cup, the ongoing evolution of women's football, and FIFA's strategic approach to fostering global development and the popularity of the sport. Gianluca Famigli also provides fascinating insights into the creation of a first-ever legacy program and the innovative operational models that FIFA has implemented for this tournament.


Roger Hampel (Football Business Journal): This is the first time the Women's World Cup is being co-hosted by two countries, New Zealand and Australia. Can you share the unique global opportunities the dual-hosted Women's World Cup brings and how the hosts worked with FIFA?


Gianluca Famigli (FIFA): This is the first FIFA Women’s World Cup co-hosted by two countries across two confederations and staged in the Southern Hemisphere. And that’s not all, for the first time the tournament will feature 32 teams (including eight debutants) playing 64 matches across nine host cities and ten stadiums.


Speaking of debutants, the expanded FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 will allow more countries to experience the World Cup environment. Indeed, up until this edition, only 17% of the member associations had ever played at a FIFA Women’s World Cup. However, things are changing as more countries recognise the potential of the women’s game and start investing in it.


After the appointment of Australia and New Zealand as co-hosts in June 2020, the FIFA Women’s Football Division started to work together with other FIFA functional areas and the host member associations to produce the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Strategy – the first strategic document of its kind dedicated to this competition. This was a useful exercise because it helped clarify the vision, mission and key objectives for the biggest female sporting event in the world.


FOT: FIFA via instagram


Gianluca Famigli (FIFA): Unlike previous editions of the competition, for the first-time ever FIFA replaced the Local Organising Committee concept and introduced a new operational model through a Local FIFA Subsidiary (LFS). The LFS has offices directly on the ground, in Australia and New Zealand, simplifying operations when it comes to working with host cities, stadiums, training sites and local governments. This also means that the local staff on the ground have been trained to successfully deliver major sport events, which is certainly a legacy for the future of the sporting ecosystem in Australia and New Zealand.


Speaking of legacy, FIFA created the first-ever legacy programme for the 2023 edition through a dedicated Legacy Working Group to ensure a living legacy in both countries, with an impact report to be published one, two and five years after the conclusion of the tournament. The Legacy Working Group includes representatives from the two host member associations as well as from the two host confederations, AFC and OFC. The objective is to keep track of the activities that the host associations and confederations are implementing as well as to monitor and measure the progress in women’s football sparked from hosting the tournament.


Roger Hampel (Football Business Journal): How does FIFA plan to keep up with and foster the growing popularity of women's football?


Gianluca Famigli (FIFA): FIFA is working hard to drive change in women’s football as well as to keep up with the growing popularity of the women’s game and to foster further development.


This year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup is a clear example of how FIFA is leveraging its flagship women’s tournament to inspire people and transform lives. Indeed, FIFA has raised the profile of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and is using it as a driving force for the development of women’s football and of women in football.


The FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 is the first edition to feature the same conditions and service levels as at the men’s World Cup. Enhanced conditions and service levels range from class of international travel to level of in-competition domestic travel; from the implementation of the Team Base Camp concept to the standard of accommodation and delegation size.


Gianluca Famigli and the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Winners Trophy.



LAUNCHING A NEW COMMERCIAL PARTNERSHIP STRUCTURE


Gianluca Famigli (FIFA): In addition, in 2021, FIFA launched a new commercial partnership structure, which includes a dedicated commercial strategy for women's football. This way, brands will be able to maximise the growth of women’s football and its marketing appeal as well as to directly impact and support the development of the women’s game. Rights to properties and initiatives vary depending on whether a brand chooses to be a FIFA Partner, a Women’s Football Partner, a Women’s World Cup Sponsor or a Women’s Tournament Supporter.


Furthermore, FIFA is investing to provide fans from all over the world with an unparalleled way to experience women’s football. The objective of unveiling behind the scenes content and upgrading the storytelling is to showcase the women’s game and to turn female players in renowned household names. For example, this is the case of two series; Icons and All Roads Lead Down Under – available for free on FIFA+.


Finally, FIFA continues to explore new opportunities to accelerate the growth of women’s football throughout the world, especially through new competitions. In this regard, in December 2022, the FIFA Council endorsed the creation of a new FIFA Women’s Club World Cup and a new FIFA Futsal Women’s World Cup. This means that more girls and women, irrespective of the geographical, social and cultural context they are in, will have access to football and will be able to participate in football.




Roger Hampel (Football Business Journal): You recently attended the inaugural OFC Women’s Champions League tournament in Papua New Guinea and spoke about the great potential for women’s football in Oceania. Can you share more about your observations and what specifically made you optimistic?


Gianluca Famigli (FIFA): The inaugural OFC Women’s Champions League that took place in Papua New Guinea in June was amazing. Being on the ground allowed me to grasp more than the football that occurs on the pitch, which is clearly important but is not all that matters.


In line with the principles set in our Women’s Football Strategy, football is not just about showcasing the game but it is also a development tool that we can use to educate and empower. In this regard, at FIFA we do our best to harness the power of the game and its competitions to highlight football’s positive social impact on women and girls all around the world.


FIFA'S SNAPSHOT OF STRATEGY FOR WOMEN'S FOOTBALL | FOT: FIFA



Gianluca Famigli (FIFA): Launching a new women’s club competition was amongst the objectives of the OFC Women’s Football Strategy 2027 – ″ALL″ IN and new competitions mean more opportunities at all levels. Indeed, it was great seeing women and girls from five teams from five countries competing against each other while uniting in the common objective to develop and promote women’s football in the region. This new competition was important because it meant female administrators were active on the ground, female referees and assistant referees were exposed at international level, female commentators put into practice and enhanced their abilities. All this in the beautiful Pacific region, which is culturally rich and diverse but at times can be a challenging environment for women to thrive and feel empowered.


During the tournament, there were three main aspects that made me optimistic for the future of women’s football in Oceania from a sporting, organisational and social perspective.


From a sporting standpoint, the players are talented. They just need a professional environment and a platform to nurture their skills and showcase their talent. In this regard, I noticed that the teams are trying hard to professionalise themselves, starting from coaching and training. For example, one of the teams brought to Papua New Guinea a bigger delegation because they wanted to have onsite professionals in each role of the staff, including head coach, assistant coaches, team manager, doctor, etc. In light of the higher level of professionalisation of the team, it makes sense that this club, the AS Academy Féminine, won the competition despite not being the favourites.



Gianluca Famigli (FIFA): From an organisational perspective, OFC invested in the organisation of the tournament in order to enable the players and officials to compete in an optimum environment. In particular, they made sure that travel and accommodation standards for the participating clubs were appropriate and supported the hosts to upgrade the training venues. Also, OFC invested in a marketing and communications campaign that resulted in having the matches broadcast live and the tournament being covered daily by local newspapers.


Finally, the social aspect was the one that caught my heart, not only as a professional but also as a human being. In fact, the hosts organised visits to local schools and the warmth and enthusiasm with which the students welcomed the teams was breath-taking. At the same time, the players fully understood and embraced the role they were given. They were not just football ambassadors, they were role models setting the example, showing that each and every girl and woman from the region can do it; they can be whoever they want to be and they can flourish, starting from their local communities. This is the strength and power of the women of the Pacific.


Roger Hampel (Football Business Journal): Could you discuss some of the initiatives FIFA is taking to encourage and support the development of women's football in less established regions, like for example: FIFA Women’s Football Competitions Fund for the Confederation?


Gianluca Famigli (FIFA): FIFA’s vision recognises the importance of making football truly global and sets the objective to accelerate the growth of the women’s game globally. This is not just an objective of the Women’s Football Division, rather one of the objectives of the entire organisation.


For this reason, FIFA has deployed various financial assistance programmes – such as FIFA Forward – throughout the years for the confederations and the member associations to support their operational needs and development projects.


With regard to the activities implemented through the Women’s Football Division, the Development Department launched a suite of eight different development programmes in September 2020 to support and accelerate the growth of women’s football throughout the world.


Gianluca Famigli (FIFA): Despite COVID-19, so far 885 women’s football development programmes have been delivered across 128 member associations, including more than 500 scholarships to female coaches across all six confederations. Moreover, 83% of the FIFA member associations have now a women’s football strategy in place. Within the Competitions Department, we use other tools to develop women's football as well as to increase the number of opportunities to play the beautiful game.


From a financial perspective, FIFA provided Preparation Money to the 32 member associations taking part in the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023. In particular, each qualified member association received USD 960,000 to cover the costs incurred during the preparation period ahead of the tournament. In order for the costs to be eligible, they must refer to specific preparation activities such as organising friendly matches and training camps, delivering strength and conditioning programmes, purchasing sports and technical equipment, training technical staff, and employing sports specialists for the team during the preparation phase.


Gianluca Famigli (FIFA): Speaking of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, FIFA also offers the Club Benefits Programme, for a total amount of USD 11.3 million. The funds will be distributed as rewards to clubs that are releasing the players representing the participating member associations at the final tournament and those that have trained these players between the ages of 12 to 22.


There are many other initiatives that FIFA is undertaking to encourage and support the development of women's football, but I would like to mention a specific educational activity that did not require financial assistance. In 2021, we launched a pilot project to raise awareness of the authorisation process the member associations must abide by in order to play international “A” matches that count for ranking purposes. Emphasising the importance of playing FIFA-sanctioned matches and supporting the member associations with simple and clear guidelines, in two years we went from 142 member associations featuring in the FIFA Women’s World Ranking to 188.


Being on the FIFA Women’s World Ranking holds great significance in developing countries because both the team and nation feel proud to ‘be there’ on the same list as the world’s best, and to have their place on the women’s football landscape. Also, for the players to have the chance to travel more, to be international footballers and to represent their country in the global environment is a dream come true.

And that is what we work for at FIFA, to make football truly global, to give every talent a chance, and to support players to go Beyond Greatness.


Current TOP10 of the FIFA Ranking. FOT: FIFA via Instagram


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Sources of the pictures:


FIFA's Snapshot Of Strategy For Women's Football:


FIFA Women's World Cup Teams:


FIFA Women's Ranking:




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