UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino was today elected the new president of FIFA at the governing body’s extraordinary congress in Zurich. The 42 year old Swiss had edged the first round of voting receiving 88 votes -3 more than favourite Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al Khalifa of Bahrain. This took the delegation to a second round of voting where a 50 per cent majority of 104 votes would secure victory.
Infantino received 115 votes in the second round and won the presidency ahead of Sheikh Salman who received 88 votes. Today’s vote sees him become the ninth president of the world footballing organisation and he is the first president since Sepp Blatter rose to power in 1998. Blatter won five other elections during his reign including last May’s election despite allegations of corruption which eventually saw the 79 year old banned from footballing activity for six years. Infantino will remain as president until 2019 and has a number of proposals to change world football including a 40 team World Cup.
After his victory was announced he spoke to the congress saying: “Dear friends, I cannot express my feelings in this moment. I told you I went through a journey, an exceptional journey, a journey which made me meet a lot of fantastic people, who love football and breath football and live football every day.
We will restore the image of FIFA and the respect of FIFA and everyone in the world will applaud us.
I want to work with all of you together in order to restore and rebuild a new era of FIFA where we can put again football at the centre of the stage.
FIFA has gone through sad times, moments of crisis, but those times are over. We need to implement the reform and implement good governance and transparency. We also need to have respect.
We’re going to win back this respect through hard work, commitment and we’re going to make sure we can finally focus on this wonderful game that is football.”
Five candidates were set to contest the presidency but South African Tokyo Sexwale withdrew his candidacy before voting began. Prince Ali bin al Hussein who stood against Blatter last May received 27 votes in the first round and Jerome Champagne won the support of seven nations. In the second round Prince Ali received 4 votes while Champagne failed to receive any.
Gianni Infantino was backed by Europe and had also received support from former player Luis Figo and mangers such as Sir Alex Ferguson,Jose Mourinho and Fabio Capello. The Swiss man faces a difficult task in reforming FIFA as the organisation recovers from its darkest days with widespread corruption being exposed in the past year.