Gianni Infantino is the new FIFA president, replaces Sepp Blatter
Gianni Infantino, the candidate backed by UEFA, has been elected as the new FIFA President. The 45-year-old replaces Sepp Blatter as FIFA president, after gaining the largest amount of votes in the second round of FIFA’s ‘extraordinary’ Congress at their Zurich headquarters.
In his acceptance speech, Infantino thanked the member nations, saying “I accept the result of this election, thank you. I went through an exceptional journey, met many fantastic people who love football, who breathe football.”
“I want to be the president of all of you, of all 209 nations. I want to work with all of you to work together and build a new era where we can put football at the centre of the stage.”
Infantino takes charge for only three years, and will remain in charge until the next FIFA Presidential election in 2019. The Swiss national, who also holds Italian citizenship surpassed the 104 votes required to win the election after garnering 88 votes in the first round.
Infantino, who campaigned on a platform of reform, is also heavily in favour of increasing the size of the FIFA World Cup from 32 teams to 40 teams, having already been instrumental in increasing the Euros from 16 teams to the 24 that will face off in 2016. Infantino also wants to expand FIFA's development plan to a staggering £860 million, awarding each member nation a minimum of £3.6 million.
AFC candidate Sheikh Salman was closest challenger in election
Earlier, Tokyo Sexwale had withdrawn from the election, leaving only four candidates to contest. The first round required a two-thirds majority (138 votes), but none of the candidates were able to gain the clear majority. The voting moved to a second round, for only the first time since 1974, when Joao Havelange was elected President.
The second round of voting needed only a simple majority (104 votes), which Infantino comfortably cleared. Here is a breakdown of the voting of the second round:
Gianni Infantino - 115 votes
Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa - 88 votes
Prince Ali bin al-Hussein - 4 votes
Jerome Champagne - 0 votes
Infantino first joined the football fraternity in 2000, joining UEFA as a lawyer and was general secretary of the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES). As general secretary of UEFA, Infantino does not represent the sweeping change that many had wanted, with his close association to incumbent Sepp Blatter a prominent feature not in his favour.