Uhuru-Spirit News


February 26, 2016 | Uhuruspirit

Newly-elected Fifa President Gianni Infantino

Gianni Infantino has won the race for the FIFA presidency after clinching an outright majority in the second round of voting.

The Swiss becomes the permanent replacement for Sepp Blatter, who was forced to resign from world football's governing body last year amid allegations of corruption.

The candidates needed an outright majority of 104 among the 207 national associations at FIFA's congress in Zurich, Switzerland.

Mr Infantino got 115 votes, beating pre-vote favourite Sheikh Salman, president of the Asian Football Confederation, into second place with 88.

He said: "I cannot express my feelings in this moment.

"We will restore the image of FIFA and everyone in the world will applaud us.

"We are finally going to ensure that we can once again focus on the beautiful game of football."

Prince Ali bin al Hussein, president of the Jordan Football Association, won four votes in the second round, and former FIFA deputy secretary general Jerome Champagne, got zero.

The 45-year-old UEFA general secretary, a lawyer and sports administrator who joined European football's governing body in 2000 and rose through the ranks, became FIFA's first new president in 18 years.

He was backed both by UEFA and the English FA.

Infantino led the first round with 88 votes, followed by Sheikh Salman with 85, Prince Ali with 27, and Champagne with 7.

Infantino fell 50 votes short of securing the election in the first ballot. In the second round of voting, only a simple majority was needed to win the election, and voters were allowed to change their selections.

Infantino had originally been included on the ballot as a stand-in for UEFA president Michel Platini, who was barred from running after he was banned from all football-related activity by FIFA over a two million Swiss franc ($2m, £1.35m) "disloyal payment" made to him by Blatter.

Infantino had said he would stand down if Platini's ban had been overturned, but he now finds himself the leader of one of the world's largest sporting organisations.

He is credited with running UEFA's day-to-day operations during its commercial boom. In his pre-election speech on Friday, he spoke in five different languages for the first 75 seconds without notes and portrayed himself as a leader for the world, not just his own wealthy confederation.

"We have to get Europe to do much more,'' Infantino said.

During his campaign, he promised more of key FIFA gifts to member federations: more guaranteed funding from FIFA's $5 billion-plus World Cup revenue, more places in an expanded 40-team tournament and more opportunities to stage the World Cup with multi-national regional hosting.

South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale had also been running for the presidency but dramatically withdrew from the race right before voting began, ending his address by saying: "It's your problem now."

Mr Infantino has promised a 90-day overhaul of FIFA.

Earlier, FIFA voted overwhelmingly in favour of a series of reforms to curb its president's powers and stop corruption in world football by 179 votes to 22.

Seven delegates abstained from the vote.

The reforms include the disclosure of salaries and limiting FIFA officials - including the president - to serving a maximum of three four-year terms.

FIFA's executive committee will be replaced with a new council made up of at least six women - one from each confederation.

Its political and commercial decision-making arms will also be separated in an attempt to avoid conflicts of interest.

Acting FIFA President Issa Hayatou said the reforms would give "football a strong foundation on which to thrive".

Mr Blatter, 79, was a noticeable absentee at the congress after suffering a spectacular fall over the last nine months.

Swiss police, acting under US warrants, arrested seven FIFA officials in Zurich two days before his re-election last May.

Mr Blatter has since been banned from football for six years for ethics breaches and could face criminal charges.

- with agencies

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