The hope of Liberia and CAF to see their respective candidates win last Friday’s FIFA presidential election in Zurich, Switzerland at the FIFA Congress did not materialize as the majority voted for UEFA Secretary General Gianni Infantino.
Swiss lawyer Infantino was elected as the ninth FIFA President after the second ballot with 115 of 207 votes. In line with the FIFA Statutes his mandate as the new FIFA President started after the conclusion of the Congress.
Though Liberia was in favor of Prince Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, because LFA president Musa Bility said he shared Liberia’s vision to let the game be felt everywhere and not only in Zurich, Prince Ali got only 27 votes in the first ballot and 4 votes in the second ballot.
The darling of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Sheik Salman bin Ibrahim al Khalifa of Bahrain, who is the Asian Football Confederation president and many people’s favorite, had 88 votes in the second ballot and 85 in the first ballot. Jerome Champagne got seven votes in the first ballot and nothing in the second ballot.
The winner, Infantino got 88 votes in the first ballot and 115 votes in the second ballot making a total of 203 votes. African candidate Tokyo Sexwale of South Africa withdrew from the election after he addressed the Congress. Two hundred and seven (207) FIFA member associations were entitled to vote (the member associations of Kuwait and Indonesia could not vote due to their respective suspensions.)
Earlier on Friday, the Extraordinary FIFA Congress approved a set of landmark reforms to FIFA’s governance structure, including improvements to the governance of global football, a clear separation of commercial and political decision-making, greater scrutiny of senior officials, and commitments to women in football and human rights.
According to reports monitored from Zurich, President Infantino said FIFA will facilitate a love of the game, rather than the corrupt practices which have blighted the association’s image.
Friday’s extraordinary congress in Zurich was prompted by the resignation of Sepp Blatter, whose 17-year reign as FIFA president unraveled in a crisis which has led to ongoing United States and Swiss criminal investigations.
Blatter denies wrongdoing over an alleged £1.3million ‘disloyal payment’ to Michel Platini, but both men are banned from football-related activity for six years and plan to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Infantino has close geographical ties to Blatter – the 45-year-old is from Brig in the Valais region of Switzerland, less than six miles from his predecessor’s hometown of Visp.
Infantino was also Platini’s right-hand man at UEFA, where the Frenchman was president. The new FIFA chief insists he wishes to put football first.
“I want to see football growing all over the world and people looking at FIFA as the organization who helps each country in the world to develop football,” he said. “And (I want) to help kids to smile with their eyes because they have a ball and they can play with it.”
Infantino will serve the remaining term of office for which Blatter was elected last May, meaning there will be a further election in 2019. He can serve a maximum of 12 years over three four-year terms if re-elected.
His first full week in office will begin with a football match at FIFA’s Zurich headquarters today, Monday, but the fun will swiftly give way to the serious matters of appointing a general secretary, implementing the widescale governance reforms approved on Friday and addressing a US dollars 550million shortfall.
Acting secretary general Markus Kattner, the interim successor to the sacked Jerome Valcke, revealed FIFA was more than half a billion US dollars behind its projected US dollars 5billion revenue target for the four-year cycle until 2018, with the shortfall attributed to the crisis. The financial report for 2015 will be published in March.
Infantino pledged to more than double football development grants to FIFA’s 209 member associations. The feasibility of that was questioned by Sheik Salman, but Infantino pointed to his pedigree as UEFA general secretary.
“Revenues increased even in a period when the financial context was more than dire,” Infantino said. “If FIFA has a revenue stream of US dollars 5bn over that period, it wouldn’t be a problem to invest that money.”
“All other costs of FIFA have to take second place in a way. We have to look where we can perhaps reduce costs at FIFA and that will certainly be easily done.
“In addition to that I am convinced a new era is starting for FIFA. I will approach our commercial partners, broadcasters and sponsors – they need to regain trust in FIFA.
“I’m sure revenue streams will increase and FIFA does not have to worry about the future.”
The reforms – designed to repair FIFA’s image and guard against future misdemeanors – separate political power from the day-to-day running of the organization.
That is down to the secretary general, who will be nominated by Infantino and approved by the 36-seat FIFA council – replacing the executive committee and including at least six women – subject to surviving independent integrity checks.
Infantino, for so long a right-hand man himself, will take time to consider the appointment, looking beyond Europe.
“I said in my manifesto – and I believe in it – if the president is me, the general secretary will not be European,” Infantino said.
“We’ll have to look into that. But we have time for that, we will discuss it and we will see what the best choice is for FIFA and for football.” (Other materials for this article was sourced from www.fifa.com and www.dailymail.co.uk)