A former policewoman in her Kent hometown, English security consultant Deborah Doe is one of the few women who act as a FIFA Security Officer in international events. This proportion is about to change, though, as FIFA recently developed a process to have its Member Associations putting forward applications specifically for female candidates.
Deborah spoke to us about the exact role of a security officer during a FIFA tournament, as well what the initiative means in two fields as historically male-dominated as football and security work:
FIFA.com: What exactly is the hiring process that FIFA’s security division is carrying out right now?
Deborah Doe: FIFA’s security division has a number of people that are currently used to ensure that safety and security occurs at stadiums during tournaments. However, we looked at the profiles of the existing candidates and we realised that after the World Cup in Brazil, looking ahead, we could come up across not having sufficient capacity for future tournaments.
So, a decision was taken to run some regional seminars to explain our revised safety and security regulations and also to identify individuals who we could utilize in the FIFA security office. The seminars were successful and they produced a number of male candidates. But we also realised that we needed to open the doors wider, to encourage female security officers – who we know exist out there - the opportunity to join FIFA in this role.
Both security and football are historically male-dominated environments. Did you have to overcome any barriers to reach your position because of being a woman?
Being a woman in football, and being a woman involved in security work, has its challenges. My first engagement in this world was through security, and in a year and a culture in which these jobs were predominantly male. The opportunities for a woman were constrained to certain functions of security. But changes occurred, like in any society or culture, and fortunately I never perceived any major hurdles for my career in security.
In 2011 I had the opportunity to be involved in football from a security perspective. If I compare my experience then with what I see now, there is certainly some considerable change – even in only a few years. My first engagement was with the Women’s World Cup in Germany, and by then my counterparts were all male. Since that time I‘ve gone not only to women’s tournaments, but also men’s tournaments, and I’ve been seeing more counterparts who are female.
There’s been a transition, and now it’s important to raise awareness within the Member Associations that there’s a need to address a gender balance in this field. It’s like society, or like many other male-dominated occupations: it takes time to change. But if you have a genuine desire to bring about change, then actions speak louder than words and that has been demonstrated over the last few years in the changes I’ve seen regarding football and security.
What about the other aspects of the football world: have you been noticing changes regarding the role of women?
The world of football is an enormous arena, and it’s gone through a considerable journey over the years when it comes to the participation of women – whether it’s as a player, a commentator, a photographer on the pitch side, behind the cameras, doing security, even managers. There’s been a huge change. Some regions are more advanced than other, but you can see the growth slowly spurting.
In some ways, employing female security officers on the FIFA side at the World Cup and the qualification matches helps improving that: by going to seminars and delivering this message, we encourage people to come forward. Some of this, for me, is about raising the awareness that these opportunities are there, and these roles exist for women to pursue.