‘FIFA cri­sis is over’

In­fantino ush­ers in a new era for the scan­dal hit fed­er­a­tion

7 Days in Dubai - - SPORT -

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

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