Jumat, 26 Februari 2016

Gianni Infantino elected new FIFA president

Kickbola.net Gianni Infantino To Lead FIFA Into New Era
Gianni Infantino To Lead FIFA Into New Era

ZURICH — Gianni Infantino looked out at the people who rule global soccer, the members of FIFA. Once, twice, he tried to begin his speech, clearly stunned. He had just won the FIFA presidency on Friday, but seemed to be still sorting out how it had happened.

Mr. Infantino’s ascent to perhaps the most powerful position in sports was hardly foreseeable several months ago. As soccer’s beleaguered governing body reeled from one crisis — that of widespread corruption allegations and arrests among its leadership — it seemed to be headed for another. Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, a member of Bahrain’s royal family, was considered the favorite to become the next FIFA president in Friday’s election but faced questions about possible connections to the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in his country.

Instead, Mr. Infantino, a Swiss administrator, will try to lead global soccer out of its darkest period after FIFA’s voting members, in an upset, chose him to follow the suspended Sepp Blatter, once a Swiss administrator himself. Mr. Infantino, 45, becomes just the ninth president in FIFA’s 111-year history, a reality that is emblematic of its long-embedded resistance to change.

Soccer’s leaders are under intense scrutiny from law enforcement officials in the United States and Switzerland. Many of the game’s top officials have been charged with crimes, including corruption, bribery and money laundering. Against that backdrop, FIFA’s members accepted a significant shift Friday, ratifying an extensive package of governance reforms — including measures that diminish the president’s power — before electing Mr. Infantino to implement the changes, which he endorsed during his campaign.


The long-derided executive committee — notorious for decades of scandals, bribery and political intrigue — will be replaced by a 36-member FIFA council that must include at least six women.

“A new era has been started as we speak,” said Mr. Infantino, the secretary general of UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, since 2009. “You will be proud of FIFA. You will be proud of what FIFA will do for football.”

The balloting that led to Mr. Infantino’s victory may have quietly yielded another winner. In the aftermath of the election, while Mr. Infantino was greeting well-wishers, numerous officials from other national federations stopped at the opposite end of the dais. That was where Sunil Gulati, the president of U.S. Soccer and a member of FIFA’s executive committee, was sitting.

Mr. Gulati and the rest of the U.S. Soccer delegation had worked the floor of delegates between the first and second ballots, trying to swing votes to Mr. Infantino, who gained a startling 27 votes from one ballot to the next. Afterward, many officials pointed to U.S. Soccer’s role in the result — an important development because the full congress votes on World Cup hosts, and U.S. Soccer is likely to submit a bid during Mr. Infantino’s tenure to host the 2026 World Cup.

“I think it’s a good day for the sport,” Mr. Gulati said. “We have a president we think very highly of and respect.”


After the first ballot, Mr. Infantino had 88 votes and was followed by Sheikh Salman (85), Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan (27) and Jérôme Champagne (7), a former FIFA official from France. The result was surprising in that Mr. Infantino had a slight lead — Sheikh Salman was said to believe he had the support of close to 90 delegates coming in — but it was clear that the decisions of Prince Ali’s delegates would make the difference on the second ballot.

One of those delegates was U.S. Soccer, which supported Prince Ali last May when he was defeated handily by Mr. Blatter and again on the first ballot. Mr. Gulati had told Mr. Infantino, however, that U.S. Soccer would support him if it became clear the election was a two-horse race. After a short meeting with Prince Ali between ballots, during which Prince Ali praised Mr. Infantino, Mr. Gulati and U.S. Soccer set to work.


As many as 10 federations from Concacaf, the region for North and Central America and the Caribbean, are believed to have followed U.S. Soccer and switched from Prince Ali to Mr. Infantino, as well as a handful in Asia and Europe. Tokyo Sexwale, a South African businessman who withdrew as a candidate just before the first ballot, worked as an advocate for Mr. Infantino, too, persuading an African delegate to switch.

All of it added up to a surprising margin for Mr. Infantino, who won with room to spare, totaling 115 votes on the second ballot. Asked afterward about the makeup of Mr. Infantino’s voters, Mr. Gulati smiled.

“I’m much more familiar with how it got to 115 than the first 88,” he said.

Now, Mr. Infantino, who hails from Brig, a tiny village near Mr. Blatter’s hometown, Visp, must try to lead FIFA out of the scandal that brought Mr. Blatter’s 40-year career at FIFA to an inglorious end.

United States and Swiss authorities have accused dozens of soccer officials of diverting millions of dollars from the sport into their own pockets. Several of the sport’s leaders were apprehended in two police raids at the luxury Baur au Lac hotel here.

Federal officials in the United States continue to investigate soccer’s highest echelon, and the Swiss attorney general is looking into a payment from Mr. Blatter and FIFA to Michel Platini, the president of UEFA, which oversees European soccer.

Mr. Blatter and Mr. Platini were suspended for six years by FIFA for ethics violations related to that payment, and it was only because of Mr. Platini’s suspension that Mr. Infantino decided to run for FIFA president. (He was originally planning to simply support Mr. Platini, his longtime boss.)

After entering the race on the final day to declare a candidacy, Mr. Infantino embraced the challenge of convincing the delegates that he was not simply a Eurocentric leader. Running in his first election since he was 18 — when he won the presidency of his local soccer club by promising that his mother would wash the team’s uniforms each week — Mr. Infantino traveled the world to meet with federation leaders.

In his remarks to delegates before the election on Friday, Mr. Infantino spoke in six languages — English, Spanish, French, German, Italian and, for a short spell, Portuguese — as he tried to connect with each region.

In the end, he did enough, promising to return more money to the member federations — “the money of FIFA is your money, it’s not the money of the FIFA president” — as well as pushing an agenda of changed governance. Mr. Infantino also has ideas for expansion, including a 40-team World Cup and the possibility of multiple countries hosting a World Cup.

How much of it comes to fruition remains to be seen. Many of the organization’s members still prefer the status quo. But Mr. Infantino was bullish, even when it was suggested that those who supported his opponents might make it difficult for him to enact all he desires.

“I don’t agree that football is divided,” he said. “Today, it was an election but not a war. It was a competition, but not a fight.”

He held up his hands.


“Now we turn the page,” he said. “Now we start to work.”

Ditulis Oleh : INTERBOLA COM // 20.36
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