Name: Gianni Infantino
Born: March 23, 1970 in Brig, Switzerland
Occupation: FIFA President
Why is he in the news?
Infantino is the new head of soccer’s world governing body after winning Friday’s FIFA presidential election in Zurich. Infantino becomes the ninth FIFA president. Infantino has served as the general secretary of European governing body UEFA since 2009.
Infantino was one of two Europeans vying for the FIFA presidency along with Jerome Champagne of France. Backed by support from South America, Europe, and Canada, the Swiss was one of the co-favourites to win the election.
He succeeds Sepp Blatter, who was banned from all soccer activity for six years after a suspicious payment made to UEFA president Michel Platini, who was handed a similar suspension.
What is his manifesto as FIFA president?
One of the biggest changes under Infantino will be a regional World Cup hosted by various countries. He would also seek to expand the tournament from 32 to 40 teams.
The new president is also offering FIFA members a bigger share of the organization’s $1.5-billion cash reserves.
Around $5 million will be awarded to each nation to invest in projects and to pay off expenses. An additional $40 million will be handed out to the six confederations for the same purpose. The money will be paid within a four-year cycle.
Who was running against him?
Sheikh Salman of Bahrain, Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan, Jerome Champagne of France and Tokyo Sexwale of South Africa.
Infantino was co-favourites with Salman to become the next president of FIFA.
Can he clean up FIFA?
It is unlikely. There are many red flags with Infantino. He, along with former UEFA president Michel Platini, supports the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, despite widespread claims of a corrupt vote in which Platini was heavily involved, according to Malcolm Moore of the Financial Times.
Fellow presidential candidate Jerome Champagne criticized Infantino and UEFA for its handling of corruption, particularly match fixing. The relaxation of “Financial Fair Play” has also been brought up as a slight towards the Swiss.
However, the approved reforms could alter the future of the sport, possibly leading to a new-and-improved FIFA.
Here are a few interesting facts about Infantino
• He is fluent in English, Italian, Spanish, German and French.
• He oversaw the expansion of the European Championships to 24 teams
• He has worked for UEFA for more than 15 years
What they are saying about him
“He's very experienced, has run a confederation. He's used to looking after political and governance matters, he's used to looking after large and small countries and clubs, he's used to looking after competitions, national teams and clubs, you translate that to running FIFA... I believe he has the personality, language skills, the appetite and the knowledge to do that.” – David Gill, vice-chairman of The FA and former Manchester United chief executive.
He said it
“You can sit in your nice office in UEFA and watch how everything collapses, or you can stand up, put your face out there, take the responsibility and try to do something to save football,” Infantino told the New York Times when asked what prompted him to run for FIFA president.