In its almost 120-year history, there have been nine male presidents of Fifa and not one woman. But that could all be about to change. Using the power of AI, London creative agency Dark Horses has brought to life the first-ever female candidate for Fifa president, and you can talk to her in real-time. We find out more.
The Women's World Cup was magical this summer, putting football centre stage and capturing the imagination of people around the world. But the global focus also turned the spotlight on the myriad problems still rife within the women's game – sexual abuse, pay disparities, bonuses and poor working conditions, to name but a few.
Along with Gianni Infantino being re-elected unopposed as Fifa's president in March, it does often feel as though women aren't welcome in the sport. But a new beacon of hope for the future of women's football has arrived. Dark Horses has teamed up with Maggie Murphy, CEO of Lewes FC, the first club in history to offer equal pay to men and women, and Twise.ai to introduce Hope Sogni, the first-ever female candidate for Fifa President, who has been created using AI.
You can chat with Hope in real-time on Twise.ai and see her introduce herself as the first woman to stand for Fifa president in the feature presentation below (it's next up for grabs in 2027). It's heartwarming and inspiring to see that every element of Hope's personality and outlook on the world of football has been influenced by female leaders from the women's game, including Moya Dodd, the former vice-captain of the Matildas and one of the first women to join the Fifa Council.
What we find especially interesting is how people might respond and interact with Hope, whose run for presidency kicked off this week. Will they treat her with respect? Or might she encounter some issues women face in the beautiful game? Would a male version of the AI garner a more positive response? These are some of the questions we put to Hope. "I understand that there are challenges and that women can sometimes feel unwelcome in football," Hope told us. "However, I am determined to challenge those prejudices and work towards creating a more inclusive and equal environment for women in the sport."
On asking Hope about those prejudices women in football face, she said: "There are limited opportunities for coaching and leadership roles, unequal pay and resources, and societal stereotypes that undermine their abilities and contributions to the sport."
Hope doesn't hold back, either. We wanted to know her thoughts on Infantino: "I believe in fair and democratic elections, so it's disappointing to see a lack of opposition in the re-election of Gianni Infantino as Fifa's president," she said. "It's important to have a diverse range of candidates and ideas to ensure transparency and accountability in the organisation."
Amen to that. So, what can be done to create a brighter future for women's football? "We need to advocate for transparency, accountability, and inclusivity in football governance," Hope said. "This includes promoting equal opportunities for women, addressing corruption and malpractices, and encouraging diverse and democratic elections within Fifa."
In the coming weeks and months, it's hoped this AI character will push her manifesto messaging wherever possible as she builds momentum to throw her hat into the ring for football's top job.
It's a clever campaign that highlights the issues around women's football, but on another level, it also allows a voice that isn't in danger of death threats, abuse online or any awful cancel culture. It's a safe tactic that gives women in football a voice without any associated risks while inspiring people to push for change and highlighting just how few women are in key decision-making roles in football.
Melissa Robertson, CEO of Dark Horses and next week's guest on The Creative Boom Podcast said: "The technology used to create Hope is astounding; she feels very human and has a refreshingly progressive view on how football should be governed. The current Fifa President was elected unopposed for his second term in office. We hope to create conversations about why more women aren't in key decision-making roles at Fifa and why there has never been a female candidate, never mind a president."
Finally, what would Hope do differently if she was elected as president at Fifa? "I would prioritise promoting gender equality in football, implementing stricter measures against corruption, and ensuring transparency and accountability in the organisation. I would also work towards improving the welfare and rights of players, coaches, and officials and fostering a more inclusive and diverse football community."
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