Christillin raises issue of clichéd lesbian ‘image’ but says focus must be on equality

By Andrew Warshaw in Athens

September 15 – Europe’s newly elected female representative on FIFA’s ruling council says she hopes to change opinions about women’s football – not least false perceptions about the sexuality of some of the players.

In a bizarre take on her new role at the top table of FIFA, which is trying to enhance gender equality, Italy’s Evelina Christillin, elected on Wednesday as the sole candidate for the position, took reporters somewhat by surprise when asked about her key challenges.

“It’s very important because I hate this stupid cliche about women looking like false men playing football or lesbian or whatever it is,” she said.

Asked about what other changes she hoped to bring about, Christillin talked of reducing the inequality between men and women footballers. While FIFA handed out $576 million in prize money at the last men’s World Cup in 2014, including $35 million for winners Germany, only $15 million went to last year’s Women’s World Cup.

“They (women) are wonderful athletes and so they have to be respected, possibly paid not as much as men but at least recognised, honoured and praised,” Christillin said.

“We have to work to improve and to boost these conditions both financially and sporting. The same prize (money) would be difficult at the very beginning but little by little I think that this can be.”

Christillin, who worked on Turin’s 2006 Olympic bid, makes her FIFA Council debut next month in Zurich when the new body holds its first full meeting and is looking forward to the task ahead. “You don’t have to scream or beat your hands on the table to make yourself heard and understood,” she said. “If you show yourself capable and let’s say, not with authority, but with capability and sometimes with a smile is not difficult.”

“I think many things have to be changed, less money for the executives, more money for building facilities and restructuring,” she said. “It has to be a little rebranded and reshaped – a world of football without corruption, without money wasted, without privileges.”

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