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Infantino elected FIFA president

Gianni Infantino is a Swiss citizen from canton Valais, with a long career in football administration (Keystone)

Gianni Infantino is a Swiss citizen from canton Valais, with a long career in football administration


UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino has been voted in as FIFA's new president, replacing Swiss compatriot Sepp Blatter. 

"We will revive the image and respect of FIFA and everyone in the world will applaud us for what we will do in the future," the 45-year-old law graduate said upon accepting the mantle.

Who is Gianni Infantino?

Of both Swiss and Italian nationality, Gianni Infantino was born in 1970 in Brig, canton Valais, and studied law at the University of Fribourg. He is married with four children.

Infantino first joined UEFA in 2000, and became General Secretary in 2009. He has represented UEFA on the FIFA Reform Committee since July 2015. 

He was a latecomer to the FIFA election race, having submitted his candidacy as a stop-gap measure only one day before the deadline in October 2015, while still waiting to see if UEFA head Michel Platini would be cleared of ethics violations allegations. 

"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."

The Swiss national is well versed in the politics of football having spent 15 years at UEFA.

Clear victory

In the second round of voting at the FIFA congress in Zurich on Friday, Infantino received 115 out of 207 votes. He was followed by Bahrain’s Salman Bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa with 88 votes, and Jordanian Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein with 4.

Infantino is now the ninth president of FIFA and the third from Switzerland, following Sepp Blatter (1998-2015) and Ernst Thommen (six-month interim presidency in 1961).

"A competition, but not a fight"

Speaking to the media after his coronation, Infantino denied that the world of football is divided. "Today was an election but not a war, a competition but not a fight," he said. "It was a sporting contest. We now have to build bridges, not walls."

And he gave a message to his former boss at UEFA, Michel Platini, who he replaced as a FIFA presidential candidate when the former French football star was accused of accepting a "disloyal" payment - and was subsequently banned from football for six years.

"I thank Michel Platini for everything he has taught me and for the work we have done together," Infantino told reporters. "I have very strong, dear thoughts for Mr Platini right now."

But he repeated a warning that costs would have to be cut at football's world governing body to ensure that he could meet his target of investing $1.2 billion into football development in the next few years.

End of an era

With the announcement comes an end to the saga of Sepp Blatter’s presidency, which began in 1998 and ended amid a corruption scandal that shook the world of sport.

Swiss prosecutors originally opened a criminal investigation last year when FIFA officials were suspected of money laundering and mismanagement of the world football governing body – in particular, relating to the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

Blatter called Infantino a “worthy successor” in a statement, and praised his “experience, expertise, strategic and diplomatic skills”.

Infantino “has all the qualities to continue my work and to stabilise FIFA again,” said the 79-year-old, who is also from the canton of Valais.

The Swiss ministry of sport tweeted a congratulatory message Friday evening: "Congratulations to the new president of FIFA Gianni Infantino. Wishing you every success in the challenging tasks ahead".

Earlier in the day, the Extraordinary FIFA Congress approved reforms to FIFA’s governance designed to improve the global leadership of football. Measures included a clear separation of commercial and political decision-making, closer scrutiny of senior officials, and greater commitments to issues of women in football and human rights.

Read our live blog for details on how the momentous day has unfolded:

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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