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Ebru Koksal

Women in Football Chair / Senior Advisor at J Stern &Co, Turkey

Former investment banker turned top-level international football executive, Ebru has run the leading football club in Turkey, Galatasaray, for 15 years. She has worked as a consultant for FIFA and UEFA for the last 5 years for development projects in over 30 countries, especially focusing on leadership and governance as well as the business side of football. She is the first and only woman to be elected to the Executive Board of the European Club Association and has been passionate about leading the way for more women to step up to leadership positions in football.

 

What is your favourite sport? Football!
What drives you? Making a difference in the lives of the others and leaving a legacy behind
What was your defining moment to get to where you are now? I never intended to work in sports, I was a very successful investment banker happily working in my comfort zone with an American Private Equity Fund.  My second child was born on the same day as the Fund invested in Galatasaray SK.  I was told that I couldn’t keep up with the pace of the Fund with two very young children, and was sent to the Club as an interim CFO.  What started out as sexual discrimination turned into a magical 20 year career in football of many successes as well as significant challenges.
What is your first sporting memory? I started swimming when I was eight as a cure for my advanced scoliosis.  I still remember the first day at the pool when the coach just picked me up threw me in the water.  No matter how hard I tried and practiced, I simply wasn’t a good swimmer.  I never managed to win a gold medal until the age of 46 in the Turkish Masters National Swimming Competition in the 50m breaststroke! Perseverance pays!
Who is your inspirational woman in sport? Billie Jean King is simply a legend as an athlete, but more importantly as a gamechanger who influenced the lives of generations of women in sports, and still continues to do so.
Why is sport important? Sports has the power to create the necessary social impact to build a better version of a world too often threatened by violence, conflicts, poverty, inequality and discrimination.  The power of sport crosses borders and nationalities, unites countries as equals on the field of play, and joins fans from different countries to support lesser known countries for improbable victories and struggles.  Sports also provides a perfect insight into the various aspects of globalization, i.e. the growing interconnection of people, products, and values around the world.  It is a fact that women are globally disadvantaged in society, so sporting organisations can and must use their considerable influence to bring about improved social outcomes for women, and for the societies they live in.