Chris Nikou to step down as FA chairman

Chris Nikou

Chris Nikou has decided to step down as Football Australia (FA) chairman – finishing his tenure in November of this year.

Nikou joined the FA Board in 2014 and became its Chair in November 2018.

Reflecting on his tenure as chairman, Nikou stated:

“Being in this role has been really fulfilling, and with the collaboration of key stakeholders, we’ve managed to transform the sport significantly. I have been part of the board for nearly nine years, with five of that as the Chair, but now feels like the right time for a change and to pass on the baton to a new Chair. It is important for an organisation to get fresh perspectives, especially as we look ahead to the 2024 Paris Olympics and the next FIFA World Cup cycles.

“This shift at such a pivotal time will bring in new energy and ideas, which are crucial in the ever-changing world of sports and leadership. This is further highlighted when you consider the great momentum we have created over the past year with the fantastic success of our National Teams (Subway Socceroos and CommBank Matildas) and after co-hosting the FIFA Women’s World Cup here in Australia.

“It’s been a real honour serving the sport, working closely with the Board and the Football Australia Congress Members, and representing Australian football on the global stage. Looking back at my time as Chair, I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved together, and I am also excited about the current state of the sport and Football Australia’s position both at home and internationally.

“During my term as Chair, Australia has firmly established itself on the global football stage, successfully bidding for and co-hosting the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 and achieving record national team performances. Significant strides were made in championing equal pay, the unbundling of professional leagues from Football Australia, and aligning with global standards. These milestones, combined with further growth as the number one team based participation sport in the country, the commercial resurgence of the sport and the initiation of the Legacy ’23 plan, demonstrate that the game in Australia is at its pinnacle, commercially and in terms of national prestige.

“Football has always held a special place in the heart of Australians. The foundations that have been established ensure a prosperous trajectory for Football Australia and the sport. Following the AGM, a new chapter will unfold, which I am certain will be marked by continued growth and ambition,” Nikou concluded.

A new chairman will be elected in November – during FA’s Annual General Meeting. Two board positions will also be up for rotation-based election.

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Global Institute of Sport and former Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor launch ‘study and play’ academy in Dubai

Global Institute of Sport (GIS) has announced an expansion into the Middle East by partnering with leading football performance specialists The Player, co-founded by former Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor.

Aspiring footballers from across the globe can now study a GIS university degree and immerse themselves in an elite football environment with the stunning surroundings of Dubai.

The new ‘Study & Play: Dubai’ initiative provides footballers of all levels with an unprecedented opportunity to train and play in state-of-the-art facilities under the guidance of UEFA A licenced coaches. Alongside their football, students studying a specialist GIS online sports degree will receive local academic support, as well as be part of a global cohort of GIS students studying the same degree course.

Open to students from across the world to move to Dubai, successful applicants will be able to immerse themselves in the Middle East’s emerging football market, gain cutting-edge skills and apply for sports work placements that will shape their future both on and off the field.

The Player Co-Founder and former Newcastle United player Steven Taylor commented:

“This partnership with GIS offers a fantastic opportunity for young athletes. Education is one of our four main focuses at The Player, and we’re able to offer high level performance training alongside this education.”

Fellow The Player Co-Founder and UEFA A licenced coach Sam White added:

“We’re really proud to be introducing this partnership with Global Institute of Sport, and being able to offer young professionals and talented young athletes the opportunity to study a degree and play or work within the world of football in Dubai at the same time.”

GIS President and CEO Sharona Friedman stated:

“GIS was founded with the intention of bringing the best learning and education from the world of sport together so that students are able to graduate with a holistic understanding of best practice from around the globe.

“We are delighted to partner with The Player to provide an additional immersive opportunity for students to study and train in an elite football environment, whilst also bringing our education model to a new region, which will be at the forefront of sports business and performance for the decades to come.”

The GIS degrees available to study as part of this opportunity are:

All programmes are delivered entirely online with the exception of MSc Football Coaching & Analysis, which is largely online plus two residential weeks in either London, Miami or Melbourne.

For more information on Study & Play: Dubai, you can visit the link here:

FIFA implement measures to protect female players and coaches

FIFA has announced several amendments to the current Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP). These changes have been approved by the FIFA Council by May 2024 and have been brought into effect from June 1.

These changes are majorly focused on women and the impact that menstruation and pregnancy have on their careers.

A meeting of key stakeholders and FIFA members resulted in these new regulations advancing the women’s game.

These include:

  • FIFA female players and coaches can now receive a minimum of 14 weeks of paid maternity leave.
  • A minimum of 8 weeks of paid absence for female coaches and players who adopt a child under the age of 2.
  • Also, a minimum of 8 weeks paid absence from the birth of the child if they are not the biological mother (for example same-sex parenthood).
  • Players are entitled to full remuneration if they are absent from training or games due to menstruation or pregnancy health reasons.
  • There is increased support for female players in contacting families during national team contexts to ease pressure on children and mothers.

FIFA Chief Legal & Compliance Officer Emilio García Silvero has commented on the recent changes:

“FIFA is committed to implementing a dynamic regulatory framework that is sound and suitable for the increasing needs of female players and coaches,” he said via media release.

“In order for the game to further flourish, it’s key that we have a holistic approach towards player well-being, including the legal aspects.”

This is a huge advancement in the game’s equality mission as FIFA has recognised and actively planned to ease the physical, psychological and social dimensions of pregnancy and menstruation for women athletes.

These regulations fit Goal 2 in FIFA’s Strategic Objectives for the Global Game: 2023-2027, which describe the organisation’s commitment to exploring and implementing further safeguards for player and coach welfare.

FIFA Chief Football Women’s Officer Dame Sarai Bareman outlined the importance of placing women’s physical health in the legal and mainstream dialogue of the sport.

“When you’re playing sport for a living, and in a professional environment, we have to factor in that the female menstrual cycle can also impact on your ability to deliver within your role,” she added via media release.

“So, it’s important that we protect … those that are affected by their menstrual cycles in a way that it doesn’t put at risk their employment situation with their club and, ultimately, their ability to earn money.”

This announcement shows the players are becoming the major stakeholders in laws and regulations around their welfare.

This is an important strategy for the equality of the game by making sure that women’s sporting careers are not put on hold or impacted by their natural body function or raising a child.

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