In­fantino ‘to with­draw’ from FIFA elec­tion if Pla­tini stands

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

MI­LAN: UEFA Gen­eral Sec­re­tary Gianni In­fantino vowed yes­ter­day to with­draw from FIFA’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion if Michel Pla­tini, the UEFA pres­i­dent who is serv­ing a 90-day ban from all foot­ball-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties, is al­lowed to stand.

“Pla­tini is my pres­i­dent and I’ve worked with him for nine years. It’s clear that I have his sup­port, oth­er­wise I would not be run­ning,” In­fantino told Ital­ian daily Gazzetta dello Sport.

“And there is another thing that must be clar­i­fied,” he added.

“My can­di­dacy is not in op­po­si­tion to Michel. If he is able to stand, I will with­draw. It’s a sim­ple prin­ci­ple of loy­alty. But right now I am a can­di­date 100 per cent and I’m mov­ing for­ward, not only for Europe but for world foot­ball.”

Speak­ing of his plans to run for world foot­ball’s lead role, In­fantino ac­knowl­edged he shared “lots of points in com­mon” with Pla­tini in re­la­tion to “de­vel­op­ment and re­forms” but that he also had his own ideas. “I am In­fantino and Pla­tini is Pla­tini. It ’s my pro­gramme. The pri­or­i­ties are the same but there will be some dif­fer­ences.”

Yet In­fantino said that in prin­ci­ple he, as a can­di­date, was fo­cused on sev­eral key re­forms, one of which is the “in­dis­pen­si­ble” re­form of world gov­ern­ing body FIFA.

“The re­form of FIFA. It’s in­dis­pen­si­ble. We need fi­nan­cial trans­parency, so that we know what money is com­ing in and which is go­ing out,” he said. “Also, the sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers. The Ex­ec­u­tive will soon be­come known as the Coun­cil and will be­come a po­lit­i­cal body, sep­a­rate from the ad­min­is­tra­tion. We also have to put lim­its on man­dates and the age at which they can he held.

“Sec­ondly, de­ci­sions have to be­come demo­cratic. There are 209 national fed­er­a­tions, big and small, and each one should have a say, not just every four years to elect the pres­i­dent.

“And we need made-to-mea­sure plans in terms of in­vest­ing in de­vel­op­ment. In re­cent years we’ve spo­ken very lit­tle about foot­ball. “FIFA has huge rev­enues from the World Cup and should be in­vest­ing them, tak­ing into ac­count the dif­fer­ent needs. Ger­many, for ex­am­ple, has dif­fer­ent needs com­pared to Bu­rundi.” The African vote is ex­pected to be cru­cial for who­ever is stand­ing for the FIFA pres­i­dency and In­fantino said the world’s gov­ern­ing body could do more to help the con­ti­nent.

“FIFA can do a lot for Africa, help­ing them by in­vest­ing in ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties,” he said. “Some­times they even strug­gle to or­gan­ise games be­cause the travel costs are too ex­pen­sive: that shouldn’t be hap­pen­ing.”

Seven can­di­dates are in the run­ning to suc­ceed Sepp Blat­ter as FIFA pres­i­dent for the Fe­bru­ary 26 elec­tion next year. The other five can­di­dates are Prince Ali Bin Al Hus­sein, Musa Bil­ity, Jerome Cham­pagne, Sheikh Sal­man bin Ebrahim Al Khal­ifa and Tokyo Sexwale. Asian foot­ball head Sheikh Sal­man is ex­pected to step aside should Pla­tini emerge un­scathed from the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. But un­til then In­fantino said he will con­tinue to act as though he was a can­di­date: “Maybe it’s pre­ma­ture to be hav­ing that dis­cus­sion. All I can say is re­la­tions with Asia and South Amer­ica are good.

“But be­fore talk­ing politics, I have to talk about foot­ball. I have to con­vince the others my ar­gu­ments are solid and make them un­der­stand the Euro­peans are not just rich and ar­ro­gant. “To do this, I will soon travel around the world: to talk with the fed­er­a­tions, try to un­der­stand their prob­lems and to gar­ner their sup­port.” — AFP

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