A partner of a major firm who was one of the first women to join the FIFA executive committee reflects on her Football World Cup experience
She’s recently returned from Brazil where she watched the Football World Cup unfold while in her role as one of the first women to join the FIFA executive committee.
Dodd has also been featured among eight FIFA “People of the Year” who helped shape and promote football in 2013, has been re-elected as a vice-president of the Asian Football Confederation, and most recently was appointed as chair of FIFAS’s task force for women’s football.
An Australasian Lawyer Hot Lister and partner in Gilbert + Tobin's Competition + Regulation group, the lawyer enjoys being able to mix her love of football with her passion for law.
She made waves during a trip to Tehran in Iran last year when she visited the Second International Congress on Football and Science and spoke out against the ban on women entering stadia to attend men’s football matches there.
“I spoke at [the] conference on football, but the segregation is such that I spoke to a roomful of women while [FIFA president] Sepp Blatter spoke elsewhere to a roomful of men,” she tells Australasian Lawyer.
“I was also involved in the issue of women being forbidden from attending stadiums. I was contacted on social media by women inside and outside Iran, urging me to do something about it. I made some inquiries, then briefed president Blatter and asked him if he would be prepared to speak about the issue while in Iran. I was really pleased when he did so to a packed press conference in Tehran, telling them that he had taken up the matter with the Iranian President. It's not an easy thing to change, but the FIFA President undoubtedly has the most powerful voice in the world to speak out about it.”
Dodd grew up in Adelaide kicking an “egg-shaped” ball. But when she was 11, her family bought a TV, and she discovered that football was a better game with “a round ball, a crossbar and no points for missing”.
She soon joined a local team, and eventually played for the Matildas. She still plays in the over 35s.
Promoting women in football has far reaching connotations for Dodd in terms of justice and diversity, and she says in both Australia and globally women are yet to be satisfactorily represented.
“Women still face quite profound imbalance in the world. Football is the most played, most watched, most loved game on earth - but has historically been the preserve of men. If women can participate fully in football both on and off the pitch, it's a powerful demonstration of how this can occur in many other dimensions of life.”
Dodd joined the FIFA board because she saw it as a huge opportunity to try and bring about positive change. It was an “irresistible challenge”, she says.
Most recently the lawyer was lucky enough to attend and be a part of all the craziness that was the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
A proud Australian supporter, Dodd says a stand-out memory was Tim Cahill’s goal against Holland, something she describes as a “moment of perfection”.
She was also lucky enough to be at the main Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro when Columbia’s James Rodriguez scored his famous second goal against Uruguay.
“It's undoubtedly the biggest show on earth, held in a football-crazy country full of wonderful people. Fans of all persuasions created an unbelievable atmosphere everywhere you went - beaches, stadiums, parks, restaurants, everywhere,” she says of the World Cup experience, adding: “I can't wait for the AFC Asian Cup to come to Australia next January, as I think we can generate our own version of this magic.”