As part of the recent FIFA reforms, the former 24 member FIFA Executive Committee has been transformed into a FIFA Council of 37 members, increasing the representation across all Confederations and mandating for women to have seats on the FIFA Council.
For OFC that means in addition to the Vice-President position currently held by Mr David Chung, OFC has been allocated two further members of which one must be a women.
Candidates from four OFC Member Associations have been nominated to represent Oceania on the new FIFA Council.
OFC Vice-Presidents Lee Harmon of Cook Islands and Rajesh Patel from Fiji are joined in the race by female candidates Suzanne Griffin from New Zealand and American Samoa’s Sandra Fruean.
The quartet have passed the eligibility check conducted by the FIFA Review Committee and the election for the two available positions on the council will take place in Auckland, New Zealand at an OFC Extraordinary Congress on Saturday 24 September.
The election shall be monitored by Filipe Cantuarias of Peru and Professor Damian Chalmers of the United Kingdom, who have been appointed by the FIFA Governance Committee.
Candidates for Female Member on the FIFA Council 2016
Football Federation American Samoa
Fruean is a former national team player turned football administrator in American Samoa. She represented American Samoa in the 1998 OFC qualifier for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and was captain of the squad nine years later during the South Pacific Games in Samoa.
The 48-year-old has held administrative roles throughout her playing career as the president of PanSa Soccer Club, a role she has held from 1997 to present, and as treasurer and later vice-president at Football Federation American Samoa. Fruean is a visible member of the local and regional football communities attending coaching and refereeing courses, managing travelling national teams and being a strong advocate for women’s football.
Fruean has attended ten FIFA Congresses and has served as match commissioner at two FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cups, and the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany. She has been a member of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup since 2012.
Away from football, Fruean is currently the branch manager for the Department of Human and Social Services, Children and Family Services Division, Crisis Intervention Services Branch of the American Samoa Government. She has worked in different roles within the department since joining in 1986 after earning her Certificate in Criminal Justice from American Samoa Community College.
New Zealand Football
Throughout her long-spanning career, 69-year-old Griffin has held key roles in Human Resource Management in a number of respectable New Zealand companies. From1985 to 1989 Griffin was an elected member of the Paparua County Council was a member of the West Harbour Rotary for a ten-year period. In 1989 she was appointed by His Excellency the Governor General as a Justice of the Peace.
Griffin has been associated with Halswell United AFC since 1978 and was club secretary in the early 1990s. She was elected a Mainland Football Life Member in 1998 and was a member of the New Zealand Football (formerly Soccer NZ) Appeals Committee in 1995.
Between 1995-97 Griffin was the Canterbury Football Association (now Mainland Federation) president implementing a new constitution and putting in place a CEO and board structure. In 2014 she was elected to the NZF executive committee and became a member of the CEO Review Panel and chair of the NZF Women’s Committee.
Candidates for Member on the FIFA Council 2016
Cook Islands Football Association
The 48-year-old is the residing CIFA President, a position he has held since 1997, seven years after he was elected president of Tupapa Maraerenga Football Club. He became a CIFA board member in 1991 and has held the positions of secretary, treasurer and vice-president of CIFA during the past 25 years.
Harmon became a member of the OFC Executive Committee in 1997 and was appointed vice-president in 2011. He has served on the FIFA Futsal and the FIFA U-20 Standing Committees and is currently a member of the FIFA Referee Standing Committee. He has performed the role of FIFA Match Commissioner both regionally and internationally and has been a FIFA Referee Assessor since 2001.
He was awarded Cook Islands Sports Administrator of the Year in 1999 and followed that up with the International Olympic Committee Personality Award two years later. Harmon was recognised with the FIFA Centennial Order of Merit Award in 2005.
A father of five, all of Harmon’s children have represented Cook Islands in football with three of them involved in the most recent OFC World Cup qualifiers including for the FIFA World Cup Russia™.
He gained a degree in Accounting and Business Studies and spent the majority of his working life as a public servant in roles with the Cook Islands Inland Revenue Department and the Cook Islands Government Audit Office.
Fiji Football Association
A father of two, 55-year-old Patel was born and raised in Ba, Fiji where he spent ten years as a councillor on the Ba Town Council, and a further two years as deputy mayor.
The company director has dedicated a lot of time to his public service roles where he has held roles which include president of the Xavier College PTFA and Ex-Students Association.
Patel was elected Ba Football Association vice-president in 1995 before taking on the role of President from 1999 to 2002. In 2011 he was elected as Fiji FA President and he was recently re-elected for a second term.
He has been a member of the OFC Executive Committee for several years and is currently serving as one of three vice-presidents. He is also a member of the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee.