Soccer star or beauty star?

For decades, women in sports, including soccer players, have trained tirelessly to be respected in male-dominated fields. Ahead of the Women’s World Cup, FIFA (International Federation of Football Association) announced that Brazilian supermodel, Adriana Lima, would be the organization’s global fan ambassador to represent women in soccer. The decision, however, has received backlash from fans and legacy task force members alike. 

“It is disappointing that FIFA appointed a supermodel as [its] ambassador when there are so many amazing female athletes who have worked so hard to get to where they are now,” Elena Noriega, senior, said.  

Moya Dodd, who formerly led the organization’s women’s football (soccer) taskforce, responded to Lima’s appointment with a critical outlook. Dodd referenced Lima’s known history of promoting crash-diets and unhealthy eating habits to justify her criticisms. She explained that Lima presented a “tone deaf” choice for representing the growing movement of female soccer players and fans who want to be respected for their skills rather than for their appearances. Lima’s publicist countered Dodd’s points by claiming that Lima’s stance on female issues has evolved since her past statements, and she now promotes a healthy lifestyle.  

“When a girl plays football, the world sees her differently. 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 is 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,” Dodd said. 

Dodd continued to blast FIFA for its treatment of women by critiquing the organization’s recent Women’s World Cup sponsorship from Visit Saudi (Saudi Arabian tourist board) despite its notorious women’s and LGBTQ+ rights violations. FIFA has since reversed the sponsorship due to major pushback from fans and members with like-minded views to Dodd; however, for many, questions regarding the organization’s commitment to its female fans and players remain.   

“FIFA’s engagement of Ms. Lima as their global fan ambassador demonstrates just how out of touch FIFA is with football’s fanbase and just how much FIFA has not changed,” Bonita Mersiades, former Head of Corporate Affairs at Football Australia, said. 

Despite Dodd’s statements, FIFA continues to support Lima as its female ambassador, emphasizing her love for soccer despite the backlash.