Fifa pres­i­dent elction: Gianni In­fantino suc­ceeds Sepp Blat­ter

Bhutan Times - - Editorial -

Gianni In­fantino has suc­ceeded fel­low Swiss Sepp Blat­ter as pres­i­dent of world foot­ball’s gov­ern­ing body Fifa.

The Uefa sec­re­tary gen­eral polled 115 votes, 27 more than clos­est ri­val Sheikh Sal­man bin Ebrahim al-Khal­ifa.

Prince Ali bin al-Hus­sein (four votes) and Jerome Cham­pagne (0) were third and fourth re­spec­tively.

Blat­ter, who had led Fifa since 1998, stood down last year and was lat­er­sus­pended from foot­ball for six years for breach­ing ethics guide­lines.

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

He en­tered the pres­i­den­tial race when it be­came clear that Michel Pla­tini, boss of Euro­pean foot­ball’s gov­ern­ing body Uefa, could not stand.

“I will work tire­lessly to bring foot­ball back to Fifa and Fifa back to foot­ball,” he said. “This is what we want to do.”

He added: “I feel a lot of emo­tion and have not re­alised yet what has hap­pened to­day. It is still very fresh and it’s been a long and ex­cit­ing jour­ney and I prob­a­bly need some time to chill out and see what has hap­pened.”

The elec­tion was due to be fought be­tween five can­di­dates, but South African Tokyo Sexwale with­drew be­fore vot­ing be­gan in Zurich.

The first round of vot­ing failed to de­ter­mine an out­right win­ner, though In­fantino led with 88, three more than pre-vote favour- ite Sheikh Sal­man.

A sim­ple ma­jor­ity of more than 50% - 104 of 207 avail­able votes - was suf­fi­cient for vic­tory in round two.

Not since 1974, when Joao Have­lange of Brazil beat 13-year in­cum­bent Stan­ley Rous of Eng­land, has a se­cond round been needed.

An emo­tional In­fantino told del­e­gates that to­gether they would “re­store the im­age of Fifa and the re­spect of Fifa”.

He added: “I want to work with all of you to­gether in or­der to re­store and re­build a new era of Fifa where we can again put 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.”

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

The for­mer Eng­land striker added on Twit­ter: “He’s got one hell of a job on his hands but seems a de­cent chap. Needs a size­able new broom.”

The tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ter then joked: “Have this weird feel­ing that Gianni In­fantino will pull off his mask to re­veal Sepp Blat­ter.”

Por­tuguese great Luis Figo added his con­grat­ula- tions, tweet­ing: “Fi­nally the change ar­rived. It’s time for a new era in Fifa.”

English Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Greg Dyke said: “He is not a politi­cian and he is not an ego. Fifa has been dom­i­nated by egos for a very long time. He is the type of per­son who will just get on with the job.”

Rus­sian sports min­is­ter Vi­taly Mutko said: “I am happy. We sup­ported him from the start. World foot­ball needs such a prag­ma­tist.”

Ger­man foot­ball fed­er­a­tion in­terim pres­i­dent Rainer Koch said: “We are happy and re­lieved with Gianni In­fantino’s vic­tory and the fact that Euro­pean foot­ball will con­tinue to have a strong in­flu­ence.”

Nor­way’s Karen Espelund, a mem­ber of Uefa’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, added: “We needed some­one cred­i­ble, we needed a clean win­ner, a clean man. I be­lieve we have that in Gianni.”

In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee pres­i­dent Thomas Bach said he was look­ing for­ward to work­ing with In­fantino for “the sake of sport”.

US Soc­cer pres­i­dent Su­nil Gu­lati tweeted: “Con­grat­u­la­tions. We look for­ward to work­ing to­gether to em­brace re­form and good gov­er­nance.”

Beaten op­po­nent Sheikh Sal­man said that the Asian Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion would look for­ward to work­ing with the new-look Fifa and its pres­i­dent to re­form world foot­ball’s gov­ern­ing body and to “re­in­state foot­ball’s cred­i­bil­ity glob­ally”.

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