(CNN) FIFA’s decision to appoint Brazilian supermodel Adriana Lima as its global fan ambassador ahead of the Women’s World Cup has been derided as “tone deaf” and “really baffling” by former Australia international Moya Dodd.
Soccer’s world governing body announced Monday that Lima, a former Victoria’s Secret model, would “develop, promote and participate in several global initiatives involving fans from around the world,” while FIFA president Gianni Infantino said the 41-year-old Brazilian “lives and breathing “football.”
Dodd, the former vice-captain of Australia’s women’s soccer team, said on Wednesday that Lima’s public image “looked strange for an organization that says it wants to empower girls and women, and whose president is required to be ‘a vanguard’ for promoting gender equality (yes, it is stated in FIFA’s governing regulations).”
Dodd, who previously chaired Fifa’s women’s football task force, wrote on Linkedin: “(When a girl plays football, the world looks at her differently. Instead of being complimented on her good looks or her beautiful dress, she is appreciated for her game ).-saving tackles and brilliant goal scores.
“She is admired for what she can DO, rather than what she looks like, putting her on par with her brothers in a way that could change the entire trajectory of her life’s ambitions.
A member of FIFA’s executive committee from 2013 to 2016, Dodd expanded on her comments, adding that her own research on Lima “showed that this model was specifically known for crash-diet eating and drinking,” referencing a GQ article from 2006, where the Brazilian is quoted as saying that abortion is a crime.
“What will this ambassador represent to the large and growing population of aspiring #womensfootball players and fans who love the game because it shows us what empowerment and equality can look like?” Dodd asked.
Lima’s publicist, Laurent Boye, said the model’s attitude had changed since she made those comments 17 years ago.
“We can proudly say that Lima has been promoting a healthy lifestyle for several years and like many others, her position on many LGBTQIA+ and women’s issues has evolved and she is considered an ally,” Boye said in a statement, Reuters news agency reported. .
In a follow-up post, Dodd said Lima’s views on abortion still hadn’t been addressed.
“To be clear, there is no criticism of Lima’s personal choice – everyone should be entitled to that. But condemning abortion as a crime means you believe that others who make a different choice should be treated as criminals and punished accordingly.
“It’s a terrifying prospect, and not consistent with women’s empowerment or right to control their own bodies and futures, imho,” Dodd wrote.
CNN has reached out to FIFA for further comment.
In a statement on Monday, Lima said she was “very grateful and honored to have been chosen by FIFA to be the first Global Fan Ambassador and to be given such a platform to help fans get even closer to the game.”
Ouarda Coussay, a representative of model management agency Elite World Group, which represents Lima, declined further comment when contacted by CNN.
The 2023 Women’s World Cup runs from July 20 to August 20 in Australia and New Zealand.
CNN’s Sammy Mngqosini contributed reporting.