Infantino vows to clean FIFA’s tattered image


New FIFA president, Gianni Infantino of Switzerland waves after being elected as new FIFA President ...
New FIFA president, Gianni Infantino of Switzerland waves after being elected as new FIFA President during the Extraordinary FIFA Congress 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland, Friday, Feb, 26, 2016. PHOTO/AP/Yahoo!

Newly elected FIFA President Gianni Infantino has promised he will restore the image of football’s world governing body after winning the Presidential elections on Friday in Zurich.

Infantino polled 115 votes in the second round of voting to succeed Sepp Blatter and lead FIFA into a new era, with his closest rival Sheikh Salman registering 27 less votes than the Swiss.

The 45-year-old also revealed that he had plans for who his general secretary would be but refused to comment at this stage on the identity.

Infantino also refuted claims that football is divided, drawing upon the relationships he has across the world and stressing that it will be his objective to unite the world of football.

GIANNI INFANTINO

FIFA President

“It’s a pleasure for me to sit here in front of you now. For this press conference, I will take only a few questions but I would like to say a few worse before we do that. I think for tomorrow’s newspapers and for today’s media, you have already the news which is Gianni Infantino is elected FIFA President. This is the news. For all the rest we’ll have plenty of time in detail to discuss the many topics that concern FIFA and the future of football. Let me just say from the outset that I would like to address myself right now first of all to the FIFA staff because they went through a very difficult period and I want to speak to them to tell them I count on them and that I believe on them and we will do great things together. I would also like to speak to the stakeholders, of course the national associations that I spoke to today, the leagues, clubs, players and to the fans. I want to tell all of you that you will be proud of FIFA, you will be proud of what FIFA will do for football. We enter now into a new era, it was today an important congress, an extraordinary congress where some groundbreaking reforms have been approved and where a President has been elected who certainly can and will implement all these reforms in order to make sure that the image and reputation of FIFA will come back to where they belong. We will work tirelessly, starting from myself through all the associations and staff members to make sure that we bring football back to FIFA and FIFA back to football because this is what we have to do and what we will do. We will restore the image of FIFA, we will make sure that everyone will be happy with what we do. I really beg for your understanding, I feel a lot of emotions, I have not yet realised what has happened today. I went in this competition in order to win it but it’s still very, very fresh and it has been a long and exciting journey so I will probably need a bit of time to chill out and realise what is going to happen and then I will immediately start to work.

“I have of course a couple of ideas on the position of the general secretary. It’s certainly not today to speak about it. We will look into that. It is the decision of the FIFA council. Of course the general secretary has an important position. I want to have a very strong general secretary and they I said in my manifesto that if the President is me, they won’t be European. We will have to look into that but we have time. We will see what is the best choice for FIFA and football.

“I don’t agree that football is divided. Today was an election but it was not a war. It was a competition but not a fight. It was a sporting contest. In an election, you win or lose. Then life goes on. I have great relationships in Africa and many friends in Africa. My first international competition that I attended was not the World Cup or European Championship. It was an African Cup of Nations in Burkina Faso in 1998. I have very personal relationships in Africa and I count on them like I count on Asia and Oceania and North, Central, South America as well to work together. The election has taken place, I’ve been elected, now we turn the page and we start to work. I will show to the whole world not I am not a candidate of Europe, I am the candidate of football and football is universal and this is what we will start to do now in FIFA to work with everyone and not to do politics, to speak about divisions, barriers. I said it today, we need to build bridges, not walls and football can certainly do that. If we do that, we can speak and discuss and agree and develop football everywhere in the world, that is my objective.

“In 2020, which is four years from now, I don’t know if I will be President still of FIFA. I hope so but I don’t know. In 2019 there will be a new election but in 2020 I want to see a big development of football all over the world. I want to see some concrete actions done by FIFA and each and every national association when it comes to football development. I want to see the Caribbean league playing, see grass roots academies in Africa, kids playing football in schools in Oceania, I want to see Asia, China, India developing their football. I want to see football growing all over the world. People looking at FIFA as the organisation who helps each country in the world to develop football, to help kids smile with their eyes because they have a ball and they can play with it.”

Report by Reuters

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