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Gianni Infantino: New FIFA President

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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)

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Algeria Embarking ‘Clean Hands’ Campaign Against Corruption, Questions Tycoons

Corruption is a major complaint of the masses of protesters who helped drive longtime leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika from office earlier this month

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algeria, clean hands campaign, corruption
FILE - Protestors carry a large flag and chant slogans during a demonstration against the country's leadership, in Algiers, April 12, 2019. VOA

Algerian authorities are embarking on a “Clean Hands” campaign aimed at rooting out corruption that has been linked to top tycoons and current and former government officials. Corruption is a major complaint of the masses of protesters who helped drive longtime leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika from office earlier this month. New protests are scheduled for Friday.

Several influential Algerians have been questioned or arrested in recent days. Among them is Issad Rebrab, head of Algeria’s biggest private conglomerate Cevital, who is suspected of possible customs-related violations and other financial wrongdoing, according to prosecutors.

Rebrab, 75, is estimated by Forbes to be Algeria’s richest man and employs 18,000 workers in his agribusiness empire. He tweeted that he went in voluntarily for police questioning. He was questioned for six hours before being taken to the El Harrach prison.

clean hands campaign, corruption
Corruption is a major complaint of the masses of protesters who helped drive longtime leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika from office earlier this month. VOA

Others targeted include a legislator accused of accepting bribes from a Chinese company. Also detained for questioning this week were three wealthy brothers believed close to Bouteflika’s brother Said, and seven Industry Ministry officials suspected of “non respect of contractual commitments with state enterprises” and influence trading.

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The Kouninef brothers’ lawyers said they are respecting the legal procedures but need time to consult the case files before commenting. The brothers made their fortune in the oil, food and advertising businesses.

The highest court in Algeria announced in a statement Wednesday that it is considering a case against ex-energy minister Chakib Khelil for acts related to “violations of foreign exchange laws and transfers of capital to foreigners.” Khelil is a close friend of Bouteflika and a high school classmate. Other former ministers are also targeted. (VOA)