The nomination of supermodel Adriana Lima by FIFA as a global ambassador for the women’s football World Cup, which takes place between 20 July and 20 August in Australia and New Zealand, was considered “disconcerting” by former Australian international Moya Dodd.
Adriana Lima has been appointed to a role in which she will “develop, promote and participate in various global initiatives”, playing the role of FIFA’s first fan ambassador, the body said in a statement this Monday. But, contests Dodd, “the model’s public image does not seem to serve an organization that claims to want to empower girls and women”.
“I asked if the FIFA ambassador will convey messages about body image, well-being and healthy eating”, writes the former athlete, who was one of the first women to join the Board of the International Football Federation. Is this an ambassador for the large and growing population of women footballers and fans who love the game because it shows us what empowerment and equality can look like?”
In the statements, published on social networks, Dodd recalls the fact that Adriana Lima evaluated abortion as “a crime”, in a 2006 interview with the magazine QA.
With no official reaction from FIFA, the model’s agent, Laurent Boye, went public to underline that the ideas of 17 years ago are not the same as they are today. In addition, Boye took advantage of the statement to justify the choice of his protégé for the role of ambassador: “We can proudly say that Mrs. Lima has been promoting a healthy lifestyle for several years and, like many people, her position on many LGBTQIA+ issues and women has evolved, and she is considered an ally.”
The resume of the model, who was one of the (however, fallen) angels of Victoria’s Secret, for 19 years, however, does not impress Dodd, an activist for the rights of women in football, who wore the colors of the Australian National Team 24 times, between 1986 and 1995, having participated in the 1988 women’s tournament that would open the doors to the World Cup three years later.
“When a girl plays football, the world sees her differently,” says Dodd. This is because, she explains, “instead of being praised for her good looks or her beautiful dress, she is valued for her game-saving moves and brilliant goal scoring”. That is: “she is admired for what she can do, not what she looks like, putting her on a par with her brothers in a way that could alter the entire trajectory of her life’s ambitions.”
An idea that, argues Dodd, should be disseminated in a World Cup year, but which ends up being undermined by placing a supermodel as an ambassador for the championship. “Where does a supermodel fit into this is truly bewildering,” she said.