By Staff Reporter
European soccer’s secretary general has been elected the new president of the sports’s world governing body in a move that’s hoped will draw a line under recent corruption controversies.
Swiss lawyer Gianni Infantino was the choice of Fifa members in a secret ballot at the long-awaited extraordinary congress in Zurich on Friday 26 February.
He will lead Fifa until 2019, when the current term of office ends, replacing Sepp Blatter – whose eight-year ban from all soccer-related activity over corruption charges was recently reduced to six years.
“I cannot express my feelings in this moment,” said an emotional Infantino, who balloted highest out of five contestants after a second vote.
Also in the running were Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa of Bahrain, former Fifa executive Jérôme Champagne, and South African businessman and politician Tokyo Sexwale, who withdrew from the contest before the first round of voting.
In his address to the congress, Infantino said: “We will restore the image of Fifa and the respect of Fifa and everyone in the world will applaud us and will applaud all [members] for what we will do in Fifa in the future.”
The new Fifa president will oversee the introduction of “landmark” reforms approved at the congress shortly before the election that will provide for “a clear separation of commercial and political decision-making, greater scrutiny of senior officials, and commitments to promoting women in football and human rights”, according to an official statement.
Outgoing acting president Issa Hayatou added: “We stand united in our determination to put things right, so that the focus can return to football once again. The hard work of restoring trust and improving how we work begins now.
“This will create a system of stronger governance and greater diversity that will give football a strong foundation on which to thrive. It will help to restore trust in our organisation. And it will deter future wrongdoing.”
The Fifa congress also approved a maximum term limit of 12 years for the body’s president, its council, members of the audit and compliance committee and the organisation’s judicial bodies.