Rediff.com  » Sports » FIFA elects Swiss Infantino to lead it out of era of scandal

FIFA elects Swiss Infantino to lead it out of era of scandal

Last updated on: February 26, 2016 23:31 IST
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IMAGE: Overview of the Extraordinary FIFA Congress in Zurich, Switzerland February 26, 2016. Photograph: Ruben Sprich/Reuters.

Swiss football executive Gianni Infantino vowed on Friday to lead FIFA, the sport's world governing body, out of years of corruption and scandal after being elected president to succeed Sepp Blatter.

"We will restore the image of FIFA and the respect of FIFA, and everyone in the world will be proud of us," the 45-year-old law graduate, for the last seven years general secretary of Europe's governing body UEFA, told an extraordinary FIFA Congress in Zurich.

After a close first round of voting in which he narrowly beat Asian Football Confederation President Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain, Infantino appeared to gather up all the votes that had been cast for the two trailing candidates, scoring a simple majority of 115 votes in the second round to Salman's 88.

Infantino owed his candidacy to the fact that Europe's preferred candidate, his boss, UEFA president Michel Platini, was banned from football last year along with Blatter for ethics violations.

He now inherits a very different job from that inhabited by his compatriot Blatter, who toured the world like a head of state for 17 years, dispensing development funds to his global support base.

Running highlights from FIFA's congress.

Time in GMT:

15.10 Announcement is made that there is no overall winner after the first round of voting and that the election will now proceed to a second round of voting.

The first round voting figures are: Gianni Infantino 88 votes, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa 85, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein 27, Jerome Champagne 7.

13.30 The voting process is proving a long, drawn out affair. After an hour's voting, we have crawled to L for Latvia with little to get excited about apart from the brief appearance of Davor Suker, Golden Boot winner as the top scorer at the 1998 World Cup, as he cast Croatia's vote.

Time then for a reminder that for a candidate to be elected in the first round, he must obtain at least 138 votes, two-thirds of the 207 votes cast.

If this does not happen, a second round is held. This time, a simple majority -- 104 votes, which represents more than 50 percent of the votes -- is sufficient for a candidate to be elected.

If no candidate gets that majority, the one with fewest votes will be eliminated and a new round will be held. This continues until one candidate obtains a majority.

12.45. Having begun his speech by promising to "die with my boots on", Sexwale ends it by withdrawing from the race,

"I have got a surprise for you. My campaign ends today and I suspend my participation. With only four people it is your problem now."

Markus Kattner, FIFA general secretary then reminds delegates of the voting procedure, reminding them not to photograph their ballot papers.

The first delegates begin to vote.

12.40: Sexwale then surprises the room by announcing he has suspended his participation and is out of the election.

12.35: Sexwale calls for FIFA's Task Force on Anti Racism to become a permanent committee because "racism is going to be with us for a long, long time.

12.30. Tokyo Sexwale, the last of the five candidates, takes to the podium and says he had not considered withdrawing from the race despite appearing to be an outsider. "I am a soldier and I die with my boots on," says the South African.

"I'm sorry about what happened to our friends Mr Blatter and others, he is our family, I hope they are able to solve their problems and one day we can see them as different people."

"Nelson Mandela taught us never to rejoice in the pain and misery of others."

12.20. Infantino: "Destiny, which brought me to start the journey, an exciting journey, a fantastic journey. Five months ago I was not thinking of being a candidate but many things have happened."

"When I speak about figures I know what I am talking about. I've been managing UEFA for the last seven years -- during which time the revenues went up by three times.

"If FIFA generates five billion, is it normal that 1.2 billion cannot be distributed for investment in football? The money of FIFA is your money" This raises a round of applause from the delegates. 

infantino

IMAGE: Newly elected FIFA president Gianni Infantino makes a speech at the FIFA congress in Zurich. Photograph: Reuters.

12.15. Gianni Infantino takes to the stage, saying he wants to speak from the heart, so needs to speak Italian, before rattling through French, Spanish, Portuguese and German before settling on English for the bulk of his main speech.

12.10. Champagne: "You can vote according to your conscience but vote for the candidate who is truly independent, for the candidate who has an unblemished record."

12.05: Champagne: "Inequalities exist between our continents - it is a legacy of our history."

He warns against the "NBA-ization" of the game. "Do you want a football that will become like basketball, concentrated in a very limited number of countries or leagues? Or do you want to football to continue in a universal way."

12.00: Jerome Champagne takes to the stage and bemoans the fact that no debate took place between the candidates - something he asked for.

11:57: Sheikh Salman: "Trying to close the gap between the smaller countries and bigger ones is vital and its a priority for us to help the smaller nations." He completes his speech in 10 minutes of his allocated 15.

11:52 Sheikh Salman: "Everyone knows me around FIFA as a president of a confederation, a vice-president of FIFA. My track record speaks for itself"

11:50 Prince Ali: "I am the only candidate who has consistently demonstrated a real commitment to a new style of leadership"

11:44 Prince Ali: "Football has thrived but FIFA has floundered - the game has carried its governing body"

11:40 Prince Ali first of the five candidates to speak

11:39 "The congress will now proceed to the election" says Hayatou

11:35 Congress re-starts

10:57 Victor Montagliani, president of the Canadian Soccer Association and a member of the FIFA Reform Committee, tells Reuters: "This is not the end, it is a start, let's not wait another 100 years, we should be reviewing this on a consistent basis to stay modern and on the sharp edge."

10:55 "I think it is a successful beginning it is a start, a foundation, I am very happy that it was passed with a very strong majority," Francois Carrard, Chairman of the Reform Committee, tells Reuters.

10:30 Congress breaks for one hour lunch

10:26 FIFA now vote on the expulsion of Canover Watson (Cayman Islands) from the audit and compliance committee -- accepted, 196 votes in favour; 2 against

10:25 FIFA votes in reforms with 89 percent in favour.

10:24 FIFA DELEGATES VOTE IN SWEEPING REFORMS TO CLEAN UP WORLD SOCCER'S GOVERNING BODY

10:20 Palestine becomes first association to challenge the reforms, saying: "This reform in our opinion, seriously threatens the future of FIFA."

10:14 "We understand the need for profound change and we will set up this change," Hayatou tells delegates. "We need time but we are on the right rack and can no longer step back.

"I am convinced about our unity. We have to seize this opportunity because it's our shared responsibility; the difficulty task of repairing and restoring our organization rests on our shoulders."

10:12 Acting FIFA president Issa Hayatou says the corruption crisis was a result of "the smallest of minorities in our organization and only a few actions over the past year".

10:00 Acting FIFA president Issa Hayatou welcomes delegates to the congress. "The future of FIFA is at stake after a year of crisis and ups and downs; we can shape the future together, it should not fill us with fear," he says in his opening address.

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