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Qatar tribune



Gianni Infantino was on Thursday re-elected as FIFA president for another four-year term - after suggesting to the congress of football’s ruling body that a business CEO would keep his job for life if he produced similarly strong financial figures.

Switzerland’s Infantino, 52, was confirmed in office by acclamation at the congress in Kigali, Rwanda, like he was in 2019.

It is officially his first re-election since he initially took over the remaining term of suspended Joseph Blatter in 2016. This means he can seek a final term in 2027 until 2031, according to FIFA statutes.

Infantino has huge backing from the 2011 FIFA members but several European countries including Germany, Norway and Sweden have not been happy with his presidency and said they would not actively support him.

“Let me simply thank all of you,” Infantino said after being confirmed by a standing ovation. “Those who love me, you are many, and the few who hate me: I love you all.

“Being FIFA president is a big honour and privilege but also a huge responsibility. You can continue to trust on my commitment ... to unite the world of football.” FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura said “we love you, president,” after the acclamation.

Infantino had earlier highlighted that FIFA revenue had risen to $7.5 billion in the period 2019-2022, $1 billion more than originally budgeted in a period hit by Covid, and another big rise to $11 billion, or even more, was expected for the 2023-2026 cycle which includes the first 48-team World Cup in 2026.

He said reserves rose from $1 billion when he took office in 2016 to almost $4 billion.

“We had promised to increase our revenues and make FIFA more stable and strong, and attractive for sponsors and broadcasters. You can only do that if you are strong,” he said.

“The money of FIFA is your money,” he told the delegates.

Infantino said that annual FIFA money for each federation has multiplied by seven from an original $250,000, noting that “if a CEO told to the stakeholders that the product would be multiplied by seven they would want to keep this CEO for ever. But I am only here on a four-year term.”

In his closing address, Infantino pledged equal bonus payments until the 2027 women’s World Cup. He named this the “most difficult” step towards equal pay and said that “the rightsholders and sponsors must do more,” citing lower offers from the partners than in the men’s game.

The growing overall investment has made him popular among a vast majority of federations but others have voiced criticism.

“In recent weeks, we have received no or only insufficient information from FIFA on various issues,” German Football Federation (DFB) president Bernd Neuendorf said in a statement on Wednesday explaining why they were not backing him.

Germany - and others - want a migrant worker fund set up by FIFA to compensate those harmed while building the stadiums for last year’s Qatar World Cup and answers as to why a Saudi sponsorship of this year’s women’s World Cup is being considered, among other issues.

Infantino said that “we took on board our responsibility regarding human rights” as he hailed the Qatar tournament as the best ever in his opening address, while FIFA human rights sub-committee chairman Michael Llamas later said further assessments are needed before a decision on any kind of remedy can be reached.

“We want to build on detailed information and also consult with external experts, given the complexity of the questions,” Llamas said, adding: “We are committed to undertake this and produce a public report with an analysis of these matters.”

He said that tournament legacy funds could also be an option for future tournaments.

Apart from criticism from several national federations Infantino’s reign has also seen various affairs.

He was recently cleared by Swiss authorities in connection with a private plane flight he took in 2017 but federal prosecutors said other proceedings against Infantino including probes into suspected breach of official secrecy, abuse of office and favouritism as well as incitement thereto were still ongoing.

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