Van Damme joins elite group of female FA presidents as she tackles task of uniting Belgian game

May 23 – Pascale Van Damme has become the first female president of the Belgian FA (RFBA) succeeding Paul Van Den Bulck, who departed after an internal power struggle. 

“It gives me great confidence that the entire board of directors and the executive committee want to turn the page together and continue to build the future of the RBFA with united forces,” said Van Damme.

“I reach out to the board of directors, the management committee, the Pro League, Voetbal Vlaanderen and the Association des Clubs Francophones de Football to write a bright future for the Red Devils, the Red Flames and the hundreds of thousands of other footballers, fans and members we represent. Better Together!”

Van Damme previously sat on the FA’s board, but has no links to the professional or amateur game in Belgium. Instead, she has a background in IT as vice-president of EMEA VMware at Dell Technologies and chairwoman of Digital Industries at Agoria.

She will have to steer the RBFA to calmer waters following the exit of Peter Bossaert, CEO, and Van Den Bulck.

Her predecessor exited after less than a year in charge after complaints over his management style. Van Den Bulck, the first black Belgian FA president, however, completely dismissed the allegations against him.

“I strongly contest the baseless and ridiculous allegations made by certain people in recent days,” wrote Van den Bulck in a statement.  “I will clarify these before the appropriate authorities and reserve the right to enforce my rights in the most appropriate manner.”

Van Damme said she “wants to help develop women’s football and bring the Women’s World Cup to Belgium in 2027.” Together with neighbours the Netherlands and Germany, Belgium is bidding to stage the flagship tournament in four years’ time.

Van Damme is the eleventh woman across FIFA’s 211 members to lead a federation. Last week, Anya James made history when she was elected as president of the Bahamas Football Association (BFA). She defeated Sam Thibaud in a presidential vote, 5-4.  Lise Klaveness (Norway) and Debbie Hewitt (England) are among the most high-profile female FA presidents.

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