Infantino elected FIFA president

The reign of Sepp Blatter is officially over. He is out in every way, including a ban from FIFA for a newly reduced 6 years. The past few months have been a whirlwind with investigations, bans, and everything in between during the run up to the election. There were 5 men standing for the election, but Tokyo Sexwale pulled out just before the election began. That left Gianni Infantino, Prince Ali of Jordan, Jerome Champagne, and Sheikh Salman of Bahrain vying for the throne.

Each of the men had passed a basic FIFA committee for standards of behavior, despite some allegations of human rights abuse from Sheikh Salman. They also had to have 5 federations’ support to stand in the election. Prince Ali and Champagne ran against Blatter in the last election, but only Prince Ali made it to the voting process, where he fell short. This election was full of intrigue, with no one quite knowing what to expect.

Heading into election day, Sheikh Salman was the favorite to win, followed closely by Gianni Infantino, with Prince Ali having a shot at it as well. Jerome Champagne and Tokyo Sexwale had virtually no chance in the betting markets, leading Sexwale to drop out. Champagne stayed in, but wasn’t a real threat, although he would have a part to play.

The first ballot was very exciting, with a virtual guarantee that no one would reach the 2/3 mark to win on the first ballot. Gianni Infantino ended up with 88 votes in the first round, just 3 more than Sheikh Salman. Prince Ali garnered 27 votes, while Jerome Champagne claimed 7. The second round of voting lowered the win threshold to a simple 50%, or 104 out of the 207 possible votes. After the first round, the politicking began.

With 2 candidates so close to the 50% mark, Prince Ali and Jerome Champagne’s 34 total votes become major pieces to the puzzle. There was a known rivalry between Prince Ali and Sheikh Salman, with the Prince urging his supporters to go for Infantino. That is basically what happened as Gianni Infantino picked up a majority of the changed votes in the second round. He garnered 115, covering the 50% threshold pretty easily. Sheikh Salman only added 3 to his tally, while Prince Ali and Champagne fell to 4 votes total. Just like that, FIFA had a new President.

Gianni Infantino is a dual citizen of Italy and Switzerland. The 45-year-old lawyer is fluent in Italian, French, and German, while also being proficient in English, Spanish, and Arabic. He has worked in sports for a while, including starting at UEFA in 2000 as the Director of Legal Affairs and Club Licensing Division. He rose through the ranks to become the Deputy General Secretary and later the Secretary General in UEFA. Now he is in the highest position in world football.

We will see if Infantino has any real interest in reforms in the future, but for now, let’s just celebrate the end of Sepp Blatter’s reign.


Tags: , , ,