Ebru Köksal: Leading Football Forward

Sep 5, 2020

Life Stories

Ebru Köksal

Beginnings

Ebru Köksal was born into a middle-class family in Istanbul in 1968. Growing up, she was keen on sports such as swimming and basketball. She loved team sports, especially water polo and football. At the age of eight she was diagnosed with advanced scoliosis – a spine condition – which meant she could no longer practice her sport fully. This only motivated her more to move ahead. In 1987, Ebru went to the United States to study economics and international relations at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. She joined Morgan Stanley in New York as an investment banker.

Trailblazing Executive

Ebru Köksal continued her high-flying career in banking. From 1999 she worked for Citibank in Istanbul. This led her into football when the top Turkish club Galatasaray became her client. Ebru played a key role in developing the club’s new stadium and was appointed CEO at Galatasaray in 2001. Her success at Galatasaray led to other positions in the top levels of European football: first woman elected to the European Club Association; General Secretary for the Turkish FA; Consultant to FIFA and UEFA; Chair of Women in Football. During this high-paced career, she endured numerous public challenges, but stayed well on course.

Legacy?

Ebru Köksal is in great demand as an inspirational speaker on equality and diversity in football. She studied advanced business management at Harvard University and joined the investment banking firm J. Stern. She advises the Scottish FA on equality issues. She is an advocate for fairer distribution of resources from elite clubs to support football for youth, women and at the grassroots. And she still plays football whenever she gets the chance. Reflecting on this career in July 2020, she stated at the World Football Summit: “For decades, football was seen as a white male dominant industry and it wasn’t normal for women and people of colour to be involved,” adding that “We need to make sure opportunities are available and showcased to everybody. I didn’t have a good support mechanism, I didn’t have a mentor, I didn’t have another woman on the Board of Directors, I didn’t have anyone to go to, I was all alone.”

Thinking points

Ebru Köksal is a trailblazer, breaking through the glass ceilings of professional football to be a top executive at one of the great clubs of European football. She has wielded power and influence at the highest level in football, among others with FIFA and UEFA. She is chair of the global network Women in Football. She is an inspirational role model for women and girls everywhere. Educators can look at this life story and discuss with their students about the challenges Köksal faced in her climb to the top, as well as explore the values which have driven her.

Find out more

Watch Ebru Koksal’s inspiring and insightful TEDx talk “Being Bold for Change” or see her speak about female leadership in football for the TurkishWIN. You can also find out more about her work on the Fearless Women podcast.

COVER Image

Ebru Köksal at the Athens Women’s Football Summit ‘19.

Ebru Köksal at the Athens Women’s Football Summit ‘19.

Life Story

For decades, football was seen as a white male dominant industry.

75

Article Tags:   gender history  |   inclusion  |   pioneers  |   values

LIFE STORIES  To discover now

Fatih Terim: Emperor of Turkey

Fatih Terim: Emperor of Turkey

Fatih Terim had a fine career as a player and coached Turkey during its rise in international football. His story is about Identity.

Do you wanna know more?

HISTORY CAN BE EXPLORED THROUGH THE LIVES OF INDIVIDUALS

Stories

Browse our collection of stories about football history and inclusion. With the history of football being made up of millions of stories, of individuals and communities, of movements and processes, we offer stories that can inspire our cultural conversations today.

Videos

Get to know untold stories where individuals are making history with football. When faced with insurmountable challenges, individuals past and present can use football as a cultural force to foster positive change in society. We honour these individuals and tell their ‘untold’ stories in short videos.

Educational Resources

Explore our innovative educational resources that use football’s history, heritage and legacy to engage young people. The resources include ready-made lesson plans and historical source collections for school history education as well as toolkit with activities for non-formal settings.

Trending Stories

Refugees

Refugees

In the wake of the 2015 migration peak, activists and volunteers across Europe have been involved in supporting refugees, sometimes with the simple act of offering space and friendship to participate in football through grassroots clubs to help newcomers integrate.

The Match when Tito Died

The Match when Tito Died

On May 4th 1980 Yugoslav communist leader and lifelong president Marshal Tito passed away while the country was watching the game between Hajduk Split and Red Star Belgrade. Ten years later, another game siding a Croatian club against a Serbian club on May 13th 1990, had the country on the brink of collapse.

LATEST POST  You may also be interested in

April in Football

April in Football

What moments in football history have we highlighted in the last month? How do they provide us with historical mirrors to the present?

Class war on the football pitch

Class war on the football pitch

Football StoriesOn this day, International Workers’ Day, also known as Labour Day or May Day, is celebrated in many countries around the world to honour and remember the struggle and fight for rights for the working class and workers. During the latter half of the...

Share This