COPA90 hires Smith as first Women's Game lead

07 Jan 2019

By: Sport Industry Group

Former New Zealand international footballer Rebecca Smith has been appointed as COPA90’s first Global Executive Director of the Women’s Game.

In her new position with the youth media football brand, the former FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year nominee is to be tasked with integrating women’s football across the whole of COPA90’s business.

The 37-year-old, a former FIFA Manager of Competitions and Events and Strategic Planning for Women’s Football, will work with major global brands and initiate a worldwide network of stakeholders in the game.

According to COPA90, the high-profile recruitment is part of its drive to give the women’s game visibility and ensure that women’s football is part of the conversation 365 days a year.

A two-time Olympian with New Zealand, Smith also captained the Football Ferns’ through two World Cups, in Germany in 2011 and in China four years earlier, in what was her nation’s first World Cup in 16 years.

Smith went on to be capped 74 times for her country and played domestically in the US, Sweden, Australia and Germany, before announcing her retirement from the game in September 2013.

Amongst her many standout career achievements on the field, Smith was part of the VfL Wolfsburg team that secured the treble in 2013, winning the UEFA Women’s Champions League, German Frauenbundesliga League and German League Cup.

Commenting on her new position, Smith said: “Football is so much broader, deeper, more diverse – and, simply put, better - than what we currently see in the media.

“With COPA90 committing the same gravitas to the women’s game, the world can see that not only some of the world’s best football is played by women, but that the women’s game also offers some of the most inspiring storytelling opportunities in sports and life.

“By inspiring, enabling and emboldening a new movement in the sport, our mission is to change the face of football.”

COPA90 has revealed that a critical aspect to Smith’s role will be to maintain momentum for women’s football beyond this summer’s World Cup in France.

The digital media brand’s recent coverage of the World Cup 19 Official Draw in December 2018 reached over 1.5 million viewers.

Across its week-long campaign, COPA90 showcased 28 of the world’s top international female players across multiple platforms.

Tom Thirlwall, CEO of COPA90, added: “COPA90 is committed to changing the media’s approach to the women’s game, championing its players, and building audiences who connect and engage with the sport.

“The World Cup is the perfect time for media and brands to commit to the women’s football, but the commitment must be full and long term – for too long the women’s game has been seen as being in orbit of the men’s and this has to change”

Smith’s recruitment follows COPA90’s announcement towards the end of 2018 of Robert Rodriguez’s arrival as Chief Growth Officer.