After Sepp Blatter resigned in shame, FIFA’s been running around without a real head for about half a year now. But the presidential elections have finally settled on a man and he happens to be another Swiss national. 45-year old Gianni Infantino is a lawyer from Brig in Switzerland’s Valais region, less than six miles from Blatter’s hometown Visp. He collected 115 votes in total, 27 more than his runner-up Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa.
Understandably, Infantino is overwhelmed by emotion at his massive new responsibility. His immediate goal is to “restore the image of Fifa and the respect of Fifa,” both of which have been in utter shambles after the widespread corruption epidemic that flourished under Blatter’s reign. The emphasis will once more on football, not on making existence cushy for the organisation’s officials.
“I want to work with all of you together in order to restore and rebuild a new era of Fifa where we can put again football at the centre of the stage.”
Reception has largely been favourable, with most football personalities feeling confident that Infantino’s the agent that will bring the change Fifa desperately needs. In the words of English Football Association chairman Greg Dyke, “He is not a politician and he is not an ego. Fifa has been dominated by egos for a very long time. He is the type of person that will just get on with the job.”
However, Gary Lineker had some warning words couched in a joke, “Have this weird feeling that Gianni Infantino will pull off his mask and reveal Sepp Blatter.”
A prudent concern. Infantino’s aim to straighten out an organisation that’s become rotten to the core is certainly admirable, but his insider status in the football world can’t be ignored. BBC Sports editor Dan Roan has pointed out his close ties with a disgraced power broker in Platini. It’s quite an undertaking for any individual to revolutionise a system he’s a part of.
As for Sepp Blatter himself, he hasn’t responded to his dethroning with a simple “No comment.” The 79-year-old, who is under a 6-year ban from football for breaching ethics guidelines, said, “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.”
We hope he doesn’t mean a literal continuation of his “work”, of course.