‘FIFA crisis is over’
Infantino ushers in a new era for the scandal hit federation
FIFA’s corruption crisis was declared to be over by President Gianni Infantino as the scandal-hit governing body broke new ground by appointing its first female and first nonEuropean secretary general.
Senegalese United Nations official Fatma Samoura has no experience working in sports but Infantino hopes she can help FIFA improve its image and regain its credibility after far-reaching corruption, bribery and financial crimes by executives.
“Nobody can change the past but I can shape the future,” Infantino told his first FIFA Congress as president since succeeding the banned Sepp Blatter. “FIFA is back on track. So I can officially inform you here, the crisis is over.”
Blatter also said in December 2014 that “the crisis has stopped” after previous bribery cases. But within a year 42 officials and entities linked to football were indicted in an American investigation into bribery and fraud.
Samoura is set to replace Jerome Valcke, who was fired by FIFA and banned from football for 12 years over a ticketing and TV rights scandal as well as expenses abuses.
Blatter was also forced out of the presidency in disgrace over financial misconduct and is now serving a six-year ban from all football-related activity.
But in an expected move, Infantino effectively seized control of the disciplinary organs put in place by Blatter. The congress handed over power to the ruling council, which is headed by Infantino, to dismiss ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, investigator Cornel Borbely and audit and compliance head Domenico Scala.
Infantino defended the move, insisting it was just to provide “flexibility” for the council “to dismiss and appoint members if the council feels it is needed”.
In a shake-up of FIFA designed by a reforms panel in the wake of the body’s recent scandals, a separation of powers is being implemented that is intended to hand the CEO-like secretary general control of business operations.
Samoura speaks French, English, Spanish and Italian but appears to have no experience dealing with commercial deals and broadcasters - a key part of the job as FIFA’s top administrator.
Infantino appears to have more experience in those areas, given he was elected FIFA president in February after nine years leading UEFA’s business operations as general secretary.
The 54-year-old Samoura’s private sector experience was working for an industrial chemicals company from 1987 to 1995.
“She will bring a fresh wind to FIFA,” said Infantino. “Somebody from outside, not somebody from inside, not somebody from the past. Somebody new, somebody who can help us do the right thing in the future.”
Samoura will have to hit the ground running as she is expected to begin work in mid-June, just a year before Russia host the Confederations Cup, a warm-up event for the 2018 World Cup.
12 Samoura will replace Jerome Valcke who was banned for football for 12 years