Gianni Infantino is the new president of soccer's corruption-scarred world governing body, winning election after promising national leaders of the sport that he would share the wealth from FIFA's $5 billion World Cup revenues.
Gianni Infantino becomes the FIFA president
Sunday, 28 February 2016 03:07
'We will restore the image of FIFA and the respect of FIFA, and everyone in the world will be proud of us,' the 45-year-old law graduate, for the last seven years general secretary of Europe's governing body UEFA, told an extraordinary FIFA Congress in Zurich on Friday.
After a close first round of voting in which he narrowly beat Asian Football Confederation President Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain, Infantino appeared to gather up all the votes that had been cast for the two trailing candidates, scoring a simple majority of 115 votes in the second round to Salman's 88.
Infantino owed his candidacy to the fact that Europe's preferred candidate, his boss, UEFA president Michel Platini, was banned from football last year along with Blatter for ethics violations.
He now inherits a very different job from that inhabited by his compatriot Blatter, who toured the world like a head of state for 17 years, dispensing development funds to his global support base.
Much of Infantino's pitch centred on his commercial acumen; during his seven years as general secretary, revenue from Europe's club competitions has grown dramatically, but so has inequality between the rich, powerful elite clubs in Europe's four big leagues and the rest.
Infantino pledged to meet quickly with World Cup broadcasters and sponsors, saying they "they need to regain trust and confidence in football and in FIFA."
"The money of FIFA is your money," he said, jabbing his left index finger to the 207 members of soccer federations from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe before the election.
"It is not the money of the FIFA president. It's your money," added Infantino, sounding more like a CEO promising a dividend to shareholders.