Sunday 19 November 2017

Fifa elects a new leader to carry out the big clean-up

Carla De Wintours in Paris

Gianni Infantino has been elected to replace Sepp Blatter as Fifa's president, winning an overall majority in the second round of voting in Zurich.

The Swiss-Italian edged ahead of the favourite Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa in the first ballot but failed to secure the two-thirds of the vote required for victory.

Infantino picked up 115 votes in the second round, 11 over the 104 he required, to secure the presidency. Sheikh Salman, meanwhile, received the backing of 88 nations, while Prince Ali al-Hussein was supported by just four.

"I cannot express my feelings in this moment," he told the Fifa extraordinary congress immediately after being elected.

"I told you I went through an exceptional journey, which made me meet many fantastic people who live and breathe football, and many people deserve to see that Fifa is highly respected. Everyone in the world will applaud us for what we will do. Everyone will be proud of what we will do."

Infantino will be in office until 2019 after a raft of new reforms were passed yesterday. Chief among the accepted reforms package is the decision to set fixed terms of three or four years for presidents, while the benchmark has been set for full disclosure of the payment structure at Fifa.

Newly elected FIFA president Gianni Infantino. Photo: AP
Newly elected FIFA president Gianni Infantino. Photo: AP

The executive committee will also undergo a transformation of sorts as it is expected to be replaced by a 36-member council designed to set global policies.

Infantino polled 115 votes in round two, 27 more than his closest rival Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa.

Prince Ali bin al-Hussein was third, with four, while Jerome Champagne failed to get any. Tokyo Sexwale withdrew before voting began in Zurich.

The first round of voting had failed to determine an outright winner. A simple majority of more than 50pc - 104 votes - was sufficient for victory in the second round.

Infantino is a 45-year-old lawyer from Brig in the Valais region of Switzerland, less than six miles from Blatter's hometown of Visp.

Blatter, who led world football's governing body since 1998, stood down last year and was later banned from football for six years.

Infantino joined the presidential race after the Uefa boss Michel Platini had been barred from taking part.

Infantino joined the presidential race when Uefa boss Michel Platini was barred from taking part

Gary Lineker, an outspoken critic of Fifa and of former president Blatter, wished Infantino "all the best" following his appointment.

The former England striker, now anchorman on the BBC's 'Match of the Day', added on Twitter: "He's got one hell of a job on his hands but seems a decent chap. Needs a sizeable new broom."

He added, however: "Have this weird feeling that Gianni Infantino will pull off his mask to reveal Sepp Blatter."

Greg Dyke, chairman of the English Football Association, said the reforms were "more important" than the new leader as they would provide an "opportunity for Fifa to start again".

Irish Independent

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