Your browser is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this websites. Learn how to update your browser[Close]
Live blog

FIFA at a crossroads

Today is D-day for FIFA and we're following every turn live from Zurich, including the election of Gianni Infantino as the new president and decisions taken on how to reform the corruption-stricken world football governing body.

By Matthew Allen
SWI swissinfo.ch

18:02

Infantino wins

 (Keystone)
(Keystone)

Gianni Infantino has been voted in as FIFA's new President, replacing Swiss compatriot Sepp Blatter.

The UEFA General Secretary won 115 votes in the second round of voting to achieve the simple majority he needed. His nearest challenger, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, got 88 votes while Prince Ali bin al-Hussein received 4 votes and Jérôme Champagne 0.

"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 said on accepting the mantle.

The Zurich-based governing body of world sport has been mired in corruption scandals in the past few years, resulting in criminal investigations in Switzerland and the United States and the downfall of Blatter.

Blatter is currently serving a six-year ban from the sport over a suspect payment to UEFA President Michel Platini (who received the same ban from FIFA's ethics committee). A number of other senior officials have either been banned or arrested as part of the ongoing probes into FIFA affairs.


16:15

The first round of voting is over

 (Keystone)
(Keystone)

The votes have been counted, no winner has been announced and we're going into a second round. Gianni Infantino received the highest number of votes (88) - three more than his nearest rival Sheikh Salman, but not enough for a two thirds majority (138).

Prince Ali bin al-Hussein got 27 votes and Jérome Champagne just 7. Tokyo Sexwale had earlier withdrawn from the contest.

In round two, candidates need just a clear majority (more than 50%) to win. That's 104 votes to win.

15:22

How to protest in style

Outgoing FIFA President Sepp Blatter was the victim of an unusual protest last year (Keystone)

Outgoing FIFA President Sepp Blatter was the victim of an unusual protest last year

(Keystone)

A smattering of protesters have gathered outside of Zurich's Hallenstadion as delegates vote for a new President inside.

Members of the Gulf Center for Human Rights are protesting against Sheikh Salman, accusing him of involvement in the alleged torture of Bahrain footballers - an accusation he has denied.

A couple of other protest "movements" have also broken out - but I'm not terribly sure what their message is exactly.

This is a former Swiss airport policeman called Pete who claims to have known one of Sepp Blatter's former wives. He appears to have a number of different issues he needs to get off his chest.


14:01

The vote begins

 (Keystone)
(Keystone)

So here's how the voting process for the next FIFA President will work: there will only be a winner in round one of voting if one candidate achieves a two thirds majority of the 207 votes cast - that's 138 votes required (Kuwait & Indonesia are barred from voting).

If there is no clear winner, we proceed to further voting rounds. A winner will be declared if they achieve a simple majority (more than 50% of votes). If this does not happen, the candidate with the lowest number of votes will drop out until we are left with two still standing.

Of course, we are now down to four candidates as Tokyo Sexwale has withdrawn at the last minute.

We'll bring you the results of each round by periscope via our Twitter account @swissinfo_en

For some more flavour of what's going on inside the congress hall, here's what's being said on twitter by some of the journalists watching proceedings.

13:45

Tokyo Sexwale

 (Keystone)
(Keystone)

What a bombshell to end on. South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale delivers his full campaign address and then promptly withdraws from the race!

Sexwale is the rank outsider in the race and has been criticised for running the quietest campaign so far. He seems to be making up for it with some stand-up charisma, joking about the executives who had been arrested in Zurich during the last two FIFA meetings.

"I am a soldier and I will die with my boots on," he says, dismissing rumours that he would quit the race before today.

On a more serious note, Sexwale calls for an ad-hoc anti-racism committee to become a full-time body. Sexwale is the only candidate to hint that FIFA should stand up to its critics and not just lie down and take a beating. "Our house is under attack, let's stand together and hold the line," he says.

"We are here to today to rectify what has been done," he said. If the other four candidates are elected "it will be a party", he says. "If I am elected it will be a even greater party."

And what then? "I am suspending my campaign. Decide between the other four."


13:30

Gianni Infantino

 (Keystone)
(Keystone)

UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino takes delegates on a multi-lingual tour of the world during his final speech at the Hallenstadion. Speaking in English, Italian, French and Spanish, he mentions just about every part of the world.

The point is to try to convince delegates that he is not just a man of Europe, but that he can also appeal to the rest of the world. 

Infantino threw his hat into the ring at the last minute in October when the presidency bid of his UEFA boss, Michel Platini, took a turn for the worst.

"When life gets difficult you have two choices: to hide and wait until it passes or stand up and do the right thing," he says. "For me, to hide has never been an option. I am not afraid to act."

One of his last statements draws the biggest round of applause so far.

"The money of FIFA is not the President's money, it is your money," he says.

13:20

Jérôme Champagne

 (Keystone)
(Keystone)

Former FIFA Deputy General Secretary Jérome Champagne is one of the outsiders in the presidential race today. He portrays himself as down to earth and without flashiness. FIFA needs less publicity, not more he tells voters.

"I am not announcing a programme full of smoke and mirrors," he said at the Hallenstadion, landing a dig against Gianni Infantino's plan to increase the World Cup tournament to 40 teams.

Champagne promises to close the divide between continents and make FIFA more democratic. He wants development funding to be directed to the 100 poorest associations.

He also wants to fix the football transfer system that has spiraled out of control with huge fees being paid. And he promises to include football teams and other stakeholders more fully in FIFA decisions and activities.

13:07

Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa

 (Keystone)
(Keystone)

The President of the Asian Football Confederation - and member of the Bahrain royal family - Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, is up next. Sheikh Salman is the only candidate to have generated noise outside the Congress walls today.

Both supporters and critics have gathered in small numbers outside the Hallenstadion in Zurich today to make their voices heard.

Sheikh Salman presents himself to delegates as "one of you" who has come to "speak from the heart" and not from a script. He says that reforms carried out in Asia since 2013 are proof that he can change FIFA too.

"When we give promises we must be realistic as well. We have to act responsibly," he said, referring to FIFA's current financial difficulties. "I am not ready to mortgage FIFA for election promises."

Salman's main message is that he will stand up for smaller associations against bullying larger ones.

12:53

Prince Ali bin al-Hussein

 (Keystone)
(Keystone)

The first FIFA presidential candidate, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, has taken to the stage to tell associations why they should vote for him. Don't forget that Prince Ali lost a bid yesterday to get the election postponed amid accusations that the vote might not be conducted properly.

He called for transparent polling booths to make sure voters did not photograph their forms. He suspects that voters might be pressured to prove who they voted for by outside third parties.

Having lost that postponement bid, he is soldiering on with his final campaign speech.

Prince Ali says he is the only true reformer among the candidates and will "bridge divides and heal rifts" at FIFA.

"You carry on your shoulders the responsibility for the hopes and expectations of millions of football followers," he told the Congress. "FIFA's past must not be allowed to destroy its future."

12:40

Presidency vote

Now to decide who is going to lead FIFA's reforms through the implementation stage. Whoever gets elected will continue disgraced Sepp Blatter's term of office until it was due to expire in 2019.

Here are the five candidates:

Asian Football Confederation President Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa.

UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino - a Swiss-Italian citizen from the same valley as Sepp Blatter

Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan

Former Fifa Deputy General Secretary Jerome Champagne

South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale


11:26

Reforms passed

 (Keystone)
(Keystone)

FIFA's extraordinary congress has passed the full set of proposed reforms as presented by the head of the reform committee Francois Carrard.

The reforms have just been passed by 179 votes for and 22 against - that's an 89% positive reaction. And with that comes an hour's lunch break. Back again at 1230 CET with the vote for a new FIFA President.

Here again, is a FIFA video package of the reforms:


11:15

Watch the congress live

If you want to get a feel for how the extraordinary congress is panning out today in Zurich, FIFA have provided a live stream, which you can watch here. 


10:50

Switzerland's role

Peter Gilléron, President of the Swiss Football Association, told the FIFA congress earlier that Switzerland had done its bit by bringing the sun to Zurich today. Transparency International thinks Switzerland should actually do more...

Yesterday TI Switzerland called on Swiss lawmakers to beef up laws to make sporting organisations headquartered here behave themselves. 

Switzerland plays host to the majority of global sporting HQs (around 60) and does quite well out of this arrangement - pulling in more than CHF1 billion every year from these entities.

TI Switzerland thinks this windfall comes with a duty to ensure the sports bodies behave like good global citizens.


10:40

Counting the cost of corruption

 (Keystone)
(Keystone)

It's worth reminding ourselves why FIFA is holding this extraordinary congress that will usher in a new President and, potentially, a wide ranging set of reforms.

The problems have been ongoing for years, but they reached crisis point last May when FIFA executives were arrested at Zurich's Baur au Lac Hotel. The Swiss police raid was repeated later in the year. 

FIFA delegates were relieved not to see flashing blue lights when they woke up in Zurich this morning, but they know that the United States and Swiss criminal probes are gathering steam.

In the meantime, FIFA is also experiencing some financial problems. It had hoped to raise $5 billion in revenues between 2015 and 2018. However, delegates have been told today that there is already a $550 million shortfall in this target. 

The organisation will have to slash expenses, but will still post a loss this year, the congress has been told.


10:15

Two votes short

 (swissinfo.ch)
(swissinfo.ch)

Not all the 209 FIFA member associations are present in Zurich to vote at the extraordinary congress: Indonesia and Kuwait have been barred from attending due to previous misdemeanors.

Both bodies were suspended last year because their governments were found to be interfering too much in the running of football in their respective countries. That means there will be 207 voters at the Hallenstadion in Zurich today.

We are told that the next ordinary FIFA meeting will decide the fate of these two national football associations on 12-13 May in Mexico.

10:00

Opening addresses

 (Keystone)
(Keystone)

The 209 FIFA members have been given a united message from the body's acting President Issa Hayatou, the President of the Swiss Football Association Peter Gilléron and the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach.

The gist of all their addresses has been: "Reform now or go bust".

"This is a watershed moment in the history of FIFA," said Hayatou. "The entire world has its eyes on us today. We have the power to change things."

Gilléron told delegates that the host country, Switzerland, has done its bit by "bringing the sun to Zurich today". "We have the power to make the sun shine on FIFA and football by making the right decisions," he added.

Bach reminded the Congress that the IOC also faced a watershed moment following the Salt Lake City Winter Games corruption scandal of 2002. "We at the IOC know from our own history what it takes to rebuild credibility," he said. "Restoring credibility to sporting organisations is the foundation of our mission."

09:40

Last minute campaigning

 (swissinfo.ch)
(swissinfo.ch)

The FIFA Extraordinary Congress is poised to begin. Delegates will vote on a package of reforms and a new President. 

Outside the Hallenstadion in Zurich is a grand total of one protestor plus an assortment of "normal football fans" who are waving placards in favour of Sheikh Salman. None of them were paid to be here, I was assured, and have appeared from Bahrain, Senegal and Pakistan from their own volition...

If you want to know what reforms are on the agenda, FIFA has this handy video presentation:

The candidates are ready for this final stage of the process, whichever way you look at it, today is an important one for football.


08:30

Kick-off for reform looms

One of five candidates will replace Sepp Blatter, who reigned at the top of FIFA from 1998 until his downfall last year. (Keystone)

One of five candidates will replace Sepp Blatter, who reigned at the top of FIFA from 1998 until his downfall last year.

(Keystone)

Reform is in the air in Zurich this morning – or is it? At 09.30 the FIFA Extraordinary Congress will begin, and at some time this afternoon/early evening we will know which of the five candidates has succeeded the disgraced Sepp Blatter as President of football’s world governing body.

But that’s not all. The 209 member associations will also vote on a package of reforms that promises to end the years of corruption. FIFA says it will emerge from the swamp of sleaze into the brave new world of good citizenship. Of course, not everyone is convinced this will be the case – no matter who or what gets voted in today.

Being FIFA, this election has already been bedeviled by claims of potential fixing and shifty behavior. And that comes from one of the presidential candidates - Prince Ali bin al-Hussein. Having thrown doubt over the number and identities of election observers, Prince Ali then launched a bid to have the election postponed until transparent voting booths could be installed in Zurich’s Hallenstadion.

Prince Ali fears voters will photograph their ballot papers to prove to third parties which way they have voted. On Thursday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) threw out his objection. The vote will go ahead.

For the record, the other four candidates are:

Asian Football Confederation President Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa.

UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino - a Swiss-Italian citizen from the same valley as Sepp Blatter

Former Fifa Deputy General Secretary Jerome Champagne

South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale