FIFA boss Infantino re-elected by vote (formality), ‘modest’ applause KNVB

FIFA boss Infantino re-elected by vote (formality), ‘modest’ applause KNVB

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Infantino officially re-elected as president of world soccer federation FIFA

Gianni Infantino has been re-elected president of FIFA amid loud applause. No vote took place in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, because – as in the previous election – there was no opposing candidate. The election was therefore a formality.

Infantino has been the boss of the world football federation since 2016. He called his re-election a tremendous honor and a great responsibility. “I promise to continue to serve FIFA and global soccer,” he said.

He will continue to do so at least until 2027. This will officially be only his second term, as he initially succeeded Sepp Blatter, who resigned in 2015. In total, a FIFA president is allowed to serve three terms.

Hate and love

In his speech, in which he spoke English, French, German and Spanish, the 52-year-old Swiss man thanked everyone for their support. “I know there are a lot of people here who love me. I know there are also some who hate me. I love you all, and especially today of course.”

FIFA boss: ‘You don’t have to love me, but stick to the facts’

Re-elected president Infantino complimented himself at the congress in Rwanda on revenues over the past four years. “Those have grown to $7.5 billion, over a billion more than budgeted. All member federations now receive an annual amount from FIFA that is seven times greater than before.”

Modest applause KNVB

The KNVB also expressed support for Infantino. “But with three very emphatic conditions,” said secretary general Gijs de Jong, who applauded “very modestly” for the FIFA boss from the audience.

“We are not happy with how everything on human rights went around the World Cup in Qatar. That really has to improve in the future. We have received firm commitments on that. For example, there is now a human rights committee at FIFA, which includes representatives from Europe and which we as KNVB have applied for. We have already looked at recommendations for future events, especially with a view to 2030.”

Saudi Arabia, which like Qatar has a controversial regime, is considering applying for the World Cup that year.

“We also want better cooperation between FIFA and Europe,” De Jong said. “Since the World Cup, steps have been made in that. You see that Europe is now indeed taken into account when the international calendar is drawn up. That unholy idea of a biennial World Cup is off the agenda.”

In addition, the KNVB wants Infantino to ensure “good governance” at FIFA. “His style is not directly our preference. That is something of the long haul. At UEFA’s congress, in Lisbon in April, new candidates will be elected to represent Europe at FIFA. The German and English association presidents stand a good chance.”

“These are like-minded people; they can put pressure on FIFA from within. This kind of quiet diplomacy may be a little less sexy and vocal. But you can see that this way, with a united approach, we are making strides. We have achieved more now than if we were to say a hard ‘no’ to Infantino.”

Swiss professor Mark Pieth thinks Gianni Infantino is even worse than his predecessor Sepp Blatter:

Swiss professor Pieth: ‘Infantino is worse than Blatter’

The grown revenue at FIFA will be used to invest in soccer, Infantino indicated. “Because FIFA’s money belongs to you. This money is for soccer and its development.”

“If a CEO would do such a thing, shareholders would want him to stay forever. But I’m only here for the next four years,” Infantino told me. And he also has big plans for the next few years. He talked about at least $11 billion in revenue, which is more than 10 billion euros.

An even higher amount is not inconceivable, according to Infantino, thanks to the revamped World Cup. “It could be a few billion more,” he said.

In his speech, he looked back on the past four years. “I promised to increase revenues and make FIFA more stable and transparent. I also wanted to regain the trust of sponsors and broadcasters. I was not so sure beforehand that this would succeed, but it did.”

Kayleigh Williams