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Elena Fort is the institutional vice-president of FC Barcelona. A highly experienced and important figure at the club, she is heavily involved in the world of sport and politics. Right now she is the only female member of the board of directors, and although she would rather there were more, she is convinced that the situation will improve with time. Greater gender equality and more female members are two of the goals that she pursues most fervently.
Following the club's major support for International Women's Day, Fort spoke in depth about this and other issues of importance at the club.
Their presence is increasing, but there are still very few female directors in the football industry. Why is that?
“It is very important for sport, and women's football in particular, to make progress in that regard. Women needs to be more accepted and to be treated more seriously. Our women's team has set new standards, they're a global benchmark, and that's fantastic. But football management needs to change its culture. At Barça we have increasingly more women in positions of responsibility, but women still make up a very small percentage of the membership. If we can raise that 26%, we will also see more female directors. This is a historic moment for the club that needs to be exploited. One of the club's challenges is to have a female president one day."
How must society change to make that possible?
“We have to get ourselves heard. People need to understand that we are as professionally capable as men are, that we are able to run football clubs. But we women also need to shake our fear of certain senior positions, like at Barça. It has to be viewed as a natural step in women's progress."
If we can raise the percentage of female members from 26%, we will also see more women directors“
You have had a distinguished career. Was it hard just because you are a woman?
“Fortunately I can't say I have had any problems. Politics and public services are a bit further ahead in that respect, so it was easier. In law, I learned from a woman, so I always had a female role model. At Barça I have had the fortune of having some great colleagues and a president like Joan Laporta who has always had full faith in me and my abilities. But sadly a lot of other women have faced difficulties and we need to be aware of that. At Barça we will do what we can to stop that from happening."
Could that have something to do with the social pressure of combining work with motherhood...
“Yes, that's a fact. We are the ones who have to make sacrifices. We need to change the cultural mentality. Luckily, the new generations have different role models and new ways of thinking. This is a natural progression and we have to make the best of it. I'm convinced that we'll get there in the end."
What can a woman offer a club like Barça?
“In generic terms, men and women are different in many ways. Women manage in a much more empathetic way and tend to offer a more transversal, global view, a team one. I don't mean specific cases, because a lot of men work that way too, but women are generally a lot more sensitive in the way they manage affairs. And at any club, and that means ours too, it is always very important to take that into consideration."
And finally, what do you think Barça will be like 15 years from now?
“I imagine Barça will have a lot more female members, having had a female president, and still winning trophies. A much stronger and more universal Barça, with greater social commitment and more rooted in the country."
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