The recent FIFA Presidential elections resulted in the victory of Gianni Infantino, the former lawyer from Switzerland and the Uefa general secretary by a whopping 115 votes out of 207, 27 more than his rival Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa. Gianni is a 45-year-old lawyer and holds Italian as well as Swiss nationality. His term will end in May 2019.
Blatter who had been the FIFA President since 1998, stepped down last year due to many allegations against him and then was also suspended from all football-related activities for 6 years for violating ethical guidelines of FIFA. Michel Platini, former UEFA president who was expected to be the successor of Blatter was also suspended for similar charges and hence could not stand in the elections.
The impactful 15-minute speech delivered by Infantino before the first round voting began was jaw dropping. He spoke in many languages without the help of any notes and presented himself as a leader for the world. He explicitly said that he travelled almost five times around the globe meeting the people who could vote for him.
“We will restore the image of FIFA and the respect of FIFA. And everyone in the world will applaud us.” Infantino said in his speech citing the corruption and bribery allegations during the Blatter era. “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 mentioned his administrative experience as he led Uefa out of a financial crisis and increased the revenues manifold.
Soon after the elections, Blatter voiced his opinions too. “I congratulate Gianni Infantino sincerely and warmly on his election as the new president. With his experience, expertise, strategic and diplomatic skills he has all the qualities to continue my work and to stabilize Fifa again”, he said.
This was the first time since 1974 that a second round was needed in the Fifa presidential elections. Joao Havelange of Brazil succeeded to win in the second round of the elections 42 years back.
It seems as if the most deserving and capable of delivering leader has been elected as a result of the elections. Infantino has a good practical experience in a significant football association, being involved with Uefa since 2009. Sheikh Salman has been alleged of human rights violations and also vote buying in the past. Jerome Champagne (also stood in the election) has been associated with football for only the past few years.
Now the future will tell us whether Infantino will be able to carry the disgraced reputation of Fifa in the recent years on his shoulders and revamp it into the well-respected body it used to be or even take it to greater heights.
(Inputs from agencies)