Euro 2020 Special

Infantino to Be Re-Elected for Third Term as FIFA President

Gianni Infantino will be re-elected as president of FIFA for a third term, even though the election itself is not until next March. That is because the deadline for other candidates to put themselves forward is gone, without anybody being prepared to run against him.

In reality he had already had everything sewn up by the end of October, with the football confederations of Asia, Africa, South America and Oceania having already backed him unanimously, meaning that he already had more than half of the 211 votes available.

That means he can look forward to the FIFA world congress which will be held in the Rwandan capital Kigali next year as a coronation.

52-year old Infantino became head of the world’s most powerful sporting body in February 2016, succeeding the disgraced Sepp Blatter, and was re-elected for a second term in 2019.


FIFA’s flawed voting structure

FIFA, particularly during the Blatter era, became synonymous with corruption, and one of the reasons it is particularly prevalent to this date is because of its flawed voting structure. Each member association has a vote each, and, whilst this is fine as a principle, it does not take in to account countries relative weight and importance in footballing terms. It means that San Marino, with a population of just 34,0009, or Anguila, with just 15,000 inhabitants, has as much say as determining where the next World Cup should be held as Brazil, whose population is 214 million.

As a recent Netflix documentary has shown, that gives smaller nations disproportionate power, especially when they vote in a bloc. And that, in turn, led to powerful figures like Jack Warner, head of CONCACAF, for more than two decades, being able to siphon off millions of dollars in bribes and kick-backs.

He is due to be extradited from his homeland of Trinidad to the USA to face corruption charges following a recent court ruling.


Infantino is not Blatter

Much of Infantino’s initial appeal is that he was not Blatter, and was seen as a safe pair of hands after the scandals of his predecessor.

However, it should be noted that Infantino began working with FIFA as early as 2000, and held several key positions before becoming Secretary General in 2009, de facto number two to Blatter.

That means he was intimately involved in some of the more contentious decisions made by the organisation including the award of the World Cup to Russia in 2018, and Qatar this year. According to the Netflix documentary, there was bribery involved in both decisions.

Whilst Infantino, at his inception as president promised a new era where football would once again take centre stage, the opposite seems to be the case, and the emphasis is all about money. The World Cup finals will be expanded from 32 to 48 teams, whilst Infantino is pushing through plans for an expended Club World Cup, despite the opposition of most of the major European clubs.

And then there is his plan to hold a World Cup every two years – a concept bitterly opposed by the European and South American Football Confederations but attractive to those from the rest of the world with the promise of even more money generated for local coffers.


He is deliberately deaf over Qatar

Many people are deeply uneasy about Qatar being chosen as hosts for this World Cup. Even before the tournament started, stories began appearing regularly about the number of migrant workers killed or injured in the construction of the stadiums and the inhumane working and living conditions they had to endure.

More recently, emphasis has shifted to Qatar’s human rights record, and their discriminatory treatment of same sex relationships. Infantino seems inured to this as was shown with his recent letter to participating countries urging them to concentrate on football.

With even Blatter now saying that choosing Qatar was a mistake, Infantino’s continued endorsement of it now looks anomalous to say the least. And the fact that he has rented a house in the Gulf State since the start of this year suggests that he has cultivated a close relationship with those in power in the Middle East kingdom.

All this suggests that any FIFA reforms under Infantino have only been skin deep.

A leopard cannot change its spots.




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