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10 Most Powerful Female Leaders in World Sport

These are some of the most powerful women in world sport. Moya Dodd (top left), Barbara Berlusconi (bottom left), Debbie Jevans (middle top), Karren Brady (centre), Sheila Johnson (centre right), Condoleezza Rice (far right)

These are some of the most powerful women in world sport. Moya Dodd (top left), Barbara Berlusconi (bottom left), Debbie Jevans (middle top), Karren Brady (centre), Sheila Johnson (centre right), Condoleezza Rice (far right)


The need for more women on company boards is a universal issue and sport is no exception.  But behind the scenes, there are women across the world leading from the front, cracking the glass ceiling that was once tightly screened across sports administration. It’s no easy task running some of the biggest sports organisations and clubs in the world and these are some powerful women who are paving the way for generations to come.


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Condoleezza Rice

Named the most powerful woman in the world by Forbes in 2004 and 2005, Rice’s influence in the sporting world is growing rapidly. The Secretary of State under the Bush administration, Rice held one of the highest offices in America, the first African-American female to do so.  Rice was one of the first two females admitted to the exclusive Augusta Golf Club, home of the Masters, and last year was named as one of the first members of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee. Her influence on American football won’t stop there, with increasing calls for her to take over the sport’s top job, NFL Commissioner, in light of the recent Ray Rice scandal. It’s a role, Rice told The New York Times  in 2002 would be her dream post-politics job.





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Debbie Jevans

Jevans is the CEO of England Rugby 2015 and is charged with organising the UK’s biggest sporting event since the 2012 London Olympics, next year’s Rugby World Cup. The 53 year old was the Director of Sport for both the London Olympics and Paralympics and is a administrative trailblazer. Her current World Cup team consists of 50% females and she thinks the U.K Sport’s current target for all sports governing body boards to be made up of 25% female directors by 2017, simply doesn’t go far enough.

“Women make up 50% of the population. Ignoring one half of the talent pool in this country doesn’t make good business sense. Getting more women into senior positions in the sports industry is not a ‘female thing’. It’s just common sense.”

How can you not admire this woman!






Stacey Allaster

Allaster is the CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association, the WTA, arguably the world’s leading female sports organisation. The 51 year old was instrumental in securing equal prize money for female tennis players at all four Grand Slams and signed a landmark international media deal that has skyrocketed the sport’s global exposure. Many of the measures Allaster has put in place have become benchmarks for other female sports and under her leadership continues to lead the way for women in sport.






Sheila Johnson

Is an entrepreneur and part owner of three teams in the NBA (Washington Wizards), NHL (Washington Capitals) and WNBA (Washington Mystics). Johnson is the president, managing partner and governor of the Mystics, the vice-chairman of Monumental Sports and Entertainment, CEO of Salamander Hotels and Resorts and also serves on the executive committee of the United States Golf Association. The first female African-American billionaire, Johnson has been able to break down so many boundaries in sports administration in the U.S. Her opinion carries a tonne of weight and she remains an inspiration to women all over the world.






Lesa France Kennedy

France Kennedy is the CEO of the International Speedway Corporation (ISC), America’s most powerful racetrack ownership organisation which owns 13 motorsport entertainment facilities including Daytona. France Kennedy is also vice-chairperson of NASCAR. A family business, her grandfather founded NASCAR and she has continued to play a pivotal role in the sport’s expansion and worldwide success.






Laura Gentile

Gentile is the Vice President of ESPN W, the sports media giant’s first dedicated women in sports website. Only a few years old, ESPN W has grown from just a blog to the premiere women in sport site, but Laura has the power to take ESPNW beyond the internet. Its popularity is growing and so too is its influence. Gentile isn’t new to ESPN, she was senior director of brand management before being promoted to Vice-President of the company.






Barbara Berlusconi

The daughter of former Italian Prime Minister and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi, is the Vice-President and CEO of one of the world’s biggest and most powerful sporting clubs, AC Milan (owned by Silvio). A board director of the club since 2011, several clashes with the club’s CEO Adriano Galliani saw both Barbara and Adriano take on a shared role of CEO and Vice-President late last year. Adriano had previously held the role of CEO on his own for 28 years.





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Karren Brady

At 23, she became the managing director of Birmingham City Football Club and was the first woman and youngest director of a Premier League Club. The League’s only chief executive Brady soon earned the nickname of the “first lady of football” throughout the U.K. With continued success under her leadership, including promotion to the top flight of English football, the club was sold by its owners in 2009. The following year Brady was appointed vice-chairman of premier league club West Ham Utd and has become an advocate for women in business. Her services to women in business earning her the honour of a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) earlier this year. Her latest book is titled “Strong Woman – the truth about getting to the top” and it certainly sums up this incredible woman.






Moya Dodd

The Australian was one of the first three women appointed as an executive member of the world’s most powerful sporting organisation, FIFA. A former Matilda (Australian Women’s Football Team), Dodd played while studying law and also gaining her MBA and now holds one of the most important positions in global sport (read about the catch that came with the appointment on Sportette here). FIFA has long been riddled with scandal and sexism, even upon Dodd’s appointment FIFA boss Sepp Blatter described her as “a good candidate” and “a good looking candidate”. But don’t be fooled, Dodd is more than just a “female face” and is the perfect position to actively ensure there are changes made to the organisation that will affect women in sport across the world. Already Dodd has successfully been able to help convince FIFA to reverse its ban on women playing with headscarves, a rule that forced many women out of the sport, and the recent half a million dollar funding boost from FIFA to the FFA to further develop the women’s game in Australia, has Dodd’s fingerprints all over it.





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Jeanie Buss

Buss is the part owner and President of NBA giant, the LA Lakers. The club is worth a staggering $1.35billion according to Forbes, but based on the recent sale of the LA Clippers at $2billion, Business Insider now values the Lakers at $4.7billion. Buss’ father, Jerry, owned the Lakers up until his death in 2013. Buss also assumed the role of the Lakers’ Governor and is its representative on the NBA Board of Governors.


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