Infantino Replaces Blatter as New FIFA President
By Kunle Adewale
The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) General Secretary, Gianni Infantino, was yesterday in Zurich, Switzerland elected as FIFA president after a second round of voting in Zurich to succeed disgraced former president, Sepp Blatter.
Infantino won the election with 115 votes, with Sheikh Salman receiving 88 votes. Prince Ali received four votes. No votes were recorded for Jerome Champagne.
In his victory speech, Infantino said: “I told you I went through a journey, an exceptional journey and a journey which made me meet many fantastic people – many people who love football and believe in football, and many people who deserve FIFA to be respected.
“We will restore the respect people have in FIFA and everybody will applaud us, and they will applaud all of you for what you do. We have to be proud of what we do for FIFA. I would like to thank all of you and all of the other candidates.
“It was a great sign of democracy of FIFA. I want to restore a new era in FIFA where we put football at the centre of the speech.”
On Infantino’s appointment, British FA chairman Greg Dyke said: “I think he’s very hard working, and I think he would make sure it was properly organised, properly structured place.
“I think he will find a good chief executive – because that’s the crucial thing here, finding a good chief executive to run things.
“But I don’t think he’s a politician, whereas we’ve just has a politician for many years.”
In the first round of voting, Infantino received 88 votes, Salman 85, Ali 27 and Champagne seven.
A total of 159 votes were required for an outright win in the first round of voting but that target was not reached and there was a second round for the first time at a FIFA presidential election since 1974.
Infantino will succeed Sepp Blatter who had been in the post since 1998 but resigned last year under pressure amid escalating corruption scandals.
Blatter was re-elected for a fifth term in May 2015 but has since been banned for six years over a “disloyal payment” of £1.3m between him and UEFA president Michel Platini in 2011.
South African candidate Tokyo Sexwale used his 15-minute pre-election speech to officially withdraw from the race, leaving just four candidates on the ballot.
President of the Nigeria football Federation, NFF, Amaju Pinnick was among those that elected the new football supremo.
Gianni Infantino: The New FIFA Supremo
Newly elected FIFA Supremo, Gianni Infantino was born on March 23, 1970 in Brig, Switzerland. He has been the general secretary of UEFA since 2009 and holds both Swiss and Italian nationality.
On 26 October 2015, Infantino received the full backing of the UEFA Executive Committee to stand for the position of FIFA President. On the same day, he confirmed his candidacy and that he submitted the required declarations of support.
He is a multi-lingual lawyer and he is married with four children.
He is of Italian origin from Calabria and Lombardy. He studied law at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He speaks Italian, French, German, English and Spanish fluently.
Prior to joining UEFA, Infantino worked as the Secretary General of the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) at the University of Neuchâtel, having previously been an adviser to a variety of football bodies in Italy, Spain and Switzerland.
Since his appointment, he has been part of a leadership team which has helped to further strengthen both national team and club football in Europe, and UEFA’s role as a respected and credible international governing body.
At the helm of UEFA’s administration, Gianni Infantino has intensified UEFA’s work to provide a sustainable environment for European football, through initiatives such as Financial Fair Play, improved commercial support to national associations of all sizes and the development of UEFA’s competitions at every level of the game.
He oversaw the expansion of Euro 2016 to 24 teams and played an integral role in the conception of the UEFA Nations League and the UEFA Euro 2020 that will see the tournament take place in 13 European nations. He is currently also serving as a member of FIFA’s Reform Committee.[
Infantino came to UEFA in August 2000, working on a range of legal, commercial and professional football matters, and was appointed Director of UEFA’s Legal Affairs and Club Licensing Division in January 2004. Throughout this time he also led UEFA’s work in fostering close contacts with the European Union, the Council of Europe and governmental authorities. He was promoted to Deputy General Secretary in 2007.
Infantino confirmed his decision to stand for the position of FIFA President on October 26, 2015, following the unanimous backing of UEFA Executive Committee.