FIFA President Gianni Infantino re-elected with jubilation

FIFA President Gianni Infantino was acclaimedly re-elected to another four-year term on Thursday after hinting that financial results under his leadership would keep an industry CEO in office for life.

Infantino faced no opponent in the election and won by applause rather than a formal vote at the FIFA Congress in Kiagli, Rwanda. The 211 member associations saw their foundation year Funded by FIFA has gone from $250,000 to $2 million since his first win in 2016.

FIFA had $4 billion reserves after the World Cup in Qatar ended in December. It has conservatively forecast record sales of at least $11 billion by the 2026 World Cup in North America.

“If a CEO tells stakeholders that the products have been multiplied by seven, I believe they will keep that CEO forever,” Infantino told FIFA members. “They would love for this story to continue.

“But I’m only here for a four-year cycle,” added Infantino, whose presidency may eventually last 15 years until 2031.

The Swiss lawyer was first elected in 2016 when FIFA was in crisis after a full-scale United States corruption probe removed a number of football officials in America. The fallout also removed veteran FIFA President Sepp Blatter from office within months of his re-election.

Under Infantino, FIFA launched new and bigger competitions to increase its revenues and give national teams more chances to qualify for the men’s and women’s World Cups, while defying opposition from European football officials.

FIFA’s support for 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar, where Infantino moved to in 2021, and its close ties to Saudi Arabian football have also caused unease among rights activists and some European member associations. The defected in a dispute at the World Cup when organizers FIFA and Qatar prevented some team captains from wearing an anti-discrimination armband.

“To all those who love me and I know there are so many and those who hate me and I know there are some, of course I love you all, especially today,” Infantino said after his election .

In an earlier speech opening the congress, Infantino said he was inspired by Rwanda’s recovery from a civil war in the 1990s, when his own campaign to become FIFA president in 2016 was struggling.

Infantino said he was told during a campaign visit to Rwanda he was not supported.

“Of course I was pretty depressed about giving up,” he said, recalling a visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial. “What this country has suffered and how this country got back on its feet is inspiring to the whole world. So I certainly couldn’t give up because someone was telling me something.”

The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, then delivered a speech traditionally offered to the host country’s head of state.

Kagame defended Qatar, calling its critics “hypocritical” and urging to keep “bad politics” out of the sport.

The Norwegian Football Association put forward a proposal that urged FIFA to do so compensate migrant workers who helped build Qatar’s World Cup projects, but federation president Lise Klaveness did not address Congress as expected.

Instead, the head of an internal FIFA panel on human rights issues, Gibraltar football official Michael Llamas, said his group would assess Qatar’s progress and publish a report in full transparency.

“There is no doubt that FIFA’s work in these areas has become increasingly robust over the years, and there is no doubt that we are beginning to have a real, tangible impact,” Llamas said in a recorded video message to the congress.

Earlier, Infantino reminded Congress of his invitations to attend two editions of the G20 meetings of world leaders and his close ties with United Nations agencies such as the World Health Organization.

“We are a football organization. We’re not the Red Cross or Greenpeace or any other organization doing a great job,” said Infantino, who has tried to insert FIFA into world politics.

“But we also have responsibilities. We have a responsibility to help address global challenges,” he said, citing “climate, human rights, disease, disability.”


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