Essien among FIFA legends, world leaders for FIFA Women's Football Convention in Paris
Former Ghana and Chelsea star, Michael Essien, is among a host of football legends and world leaders as well as football administrators, for the first FIFA Women's Football Convention in Paris from June 6 and 7.
The event organised by football's world governing body, is to serve as a prelude to the kick-off of the eighth edition of the WWC scheduled for June 7 to July 7, with 24 teams participating.
During the two-day event, participants will also discuss "key issues" around the development and empowerment of women in football.
FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura said she was "delighted" that women's football was attracting as much attention as men's football and was happy to host the maiden Women's Football Convention.
"It will bring leaders from sport and politics together to discuss furthering diversity and equality, both on and off the pitch," she said.
"The convention will harness the spirit of the tournament slogan, 'dare to shine', with encouragement and empowerment of the next generation of girls and women at the core of the event.
"I believe that the future is bright if we use the societal benefits of football, working alongside our stakeholders, to empower women and girls around the world."
Essien, who was made a FIFA Women's Football Ambassador last year, is expected to share his experiences and join in the discussion for the way forward in further promoting the women's game.
He attended the 2018 FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup also staged in France.
Though there had been Women's football seminars in the past, this is the first time the Convention is being held and it has attracted a number of key personalities, including the FIFA President, Gianno Infantino and the Secretary General, Fatma Samoura and H.E. Sahle-Work Zwede, the President of Ethiopia.
USA Women's Football legend, Mia Mamm will also be in attendance at the two-day event which is a follow up to the launch of FIFA's first Women's Football Strategy, held last year to recognise the growing interest in the women's game.
Other guests for the event are: Honourable Mia Amor Mottley, QC, MP, (Prime Minister of Barbados), Honourable Olivia Babsy Grange, CD, MP and Jamaica's Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport,
Fatuma Abdulkadir Adan, (Executive Director, Horn of Africa Development Initiative [HODI]), Jean-Michel Aulas, (President of Olympique Lyonnais), Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO and Nawal El Moutawakel, Former Sports Minister of Morocco, former Olympian will be in attendance to join in the discussion.
From the football family, Sarai Bareman (FIFA Chief Women’s Football Officer), Verónica Boquete (Professional football player), Baroness Sue Campbell, CBE (Director of Women’s Football, The Football Association),
Franck Castillo (General Secretary, OFC), Fabimar Franchi, (Head of Sustaintability and of Women’s Football Development, Conmebol), Laura George, (General Secretary French Football Federation).
After being appointed a Women's Football Ambassador, the former Ghana international joined a 23-strong FIFA legends squad unveiled by world football’s governing body as part of the campaign to promote this year’s WWC.
That team, made up of 13 women and 10 men, were tasked to help drive attendances at the tournament, generate engagement and inspire a new generation to play women’s football through the initiative.
Personalities like World Cup winners Marcel Desailly of France and Brazil’s Gilberto Silva, two-time UEFA Champions League winner Michel Salgado of Spain and Argentina’s Esteban Cambiasso were all members of the FIFA Legends Squad.
The former Lyon and Liberty Professionals star was also part of the team that conducted the draw for the 2019 WWC.