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Gianni Infantino is elected FIFA president, TTFA backs winning candidate

UEFA general secretary, Gianni Infantino, was elected as FIFA president today in Zurich, Switzerland after an unprecedented two rounds of voting at the 2016 FIFA Extraordinary Congress.

Photo: New FIFA president Gianni Infantino reacts after winning the FIFA presidential election during the extraordinary FIFA Congress in Zurich on 26 February 2016. (Copyright AFP 2016/Fabrice Coffrini)
Photo: New FIFA president Gianni Infantino reacts after winning the FIFA presidential election during the extraordinary FIFA Congress in Zurich on 26 February 2016.
(Copyright AFP 2016/Fabrice Coffrini)

Infantino, who has dual Swiss and Italian nationality, collected 115 votes in the second ballot—nine more than the simple majority necessary—to distance himself from Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, who managed 88 votes.

Incidentally, Infantino only entered the presidential race as a buffer for former UEFA president Michel Platini, when the latter’s campaign became troubled by ethical concerns. Platini was subsequently suspended for eight years—it was reduced to six after an appeal—for receiving a disloyalty payment from former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who received the same penalty.

The new FIFA president was found to have used €500,000 (TT$3.5 million) of UEFA’s money on his campaign but he insisted that it was accounted for.

Infantino’s comfortable second round triumph was a drastic departure from the first round when Infantino and Al-Khalifa collected 88 and 86 votes respectively. And it suggested that 28 from 30 votes for Jordanian Football Association president Prince Ali bin Hussein and former FIFA administrator Jérôme Champagne went to the European candidate.

Photo: A FIFA delegate prepares to cast his ballot in the 2016 FIFA presidential election today in Zurich. (Copyright AFP 2016/Fabrice Coffrini)
Photo: A FIFA delegate prepares to cast his ballot in the 2016 FIFA presidential election today in Zurich.
(Copyright AFP 2016/Fabrice Coffrini)

Infantino, whose term of office will run from 2016 to 2019, is the football body’s ninth president. Only one, Brazilian Joao Havelange, was not European. Cameroonian Issa Hayatou, the president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), served as acting president since Blatter’s suspension last year due to the fact that he was then FIFA’s longest serving vice-president.

Jordanian Football Association president Prince Ali bin Hussein got four votes in the second round while former FIFA administrator Jérôme Champagne got none.

South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale withdrew before the first round.

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams, who voted in Zurich today, broke ranks with the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) last month to openly pledge his support to Infantino, who promised to increase the World Cup from 32 to 40 teams and increase grants to associations from US$250,000 to US$1.25 million per year.

Former Trinidad and Tobago World Cup captain and Manchester United star Dwight Yorke was one of several celebrity backers for Infantino, which included ex-Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and AC Milan coach Fabio Capello. Yorke accompanied Infantino on his visits to several Caribbean islands including St Kitts and Nevis.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams and new FIFA president Gianni Infantino at the TTFA headquarters on 27 January 2016. (Courtesy TTFA Media)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams and new FIFA president Gianni Infantino at the TTFA headquarters on 27 January 2016.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

It is the first time that a FIFA presidential election has gone into a second round of voting.

In 1998 and 2015, then UEFA general secretary Lennart Johansson and Prince Ali respectively withdrew after the first round with both trailing Blatter by significant margins.

While, in 2002, there was no need for a second round of voting as Blatter collected 139 votes to 56 from Cameroon’s Issa Hayatou.

In the first round today in Zurich, Infantino collected 88 votes while Al-Khalifa got 86 and Prince Ali and Champagne got 27 and seven votes respectively.

Former Trinidad and Tobago football captain and Caribbean Player of the Year, David Nakhid, was among three potential candidates who were excluded from the electoral race.

Nakhid was ruled to have failed to gather the five nominations necessary while Platini was suspended by the governing body and Liberia Football Association president Musa Bility failed an integrity test.

Photo: Then UEFA president Michel Platini (right) congratulates FIFA president Sepp Blatter after his re-election on 29 May 2015. (Copyright Michael Buholzer/AFP 2015)
Photo: Then UEFA president Michel Platini (right) congratulates FIFA president Sepp Blatter after his re-election on 29 May 2015.
(Copyright Michael Buholzer/AFP 2015)

Earlier, FIFA delegates voted in favour of reform by 89 percent, which meant 179 votes.

What FIFA’s reforms aims to accomplish:

• Clear separation between “political” and management functions: The FIFA Council (replacing the FIFA Executive Committee) is responsible for setting the organisation’s overall strategic direction, while the General Secretariat oversees the operational and commercial actions required to effectively execute that strategy.

• Term limits for the FIFA President, FIFA Council members and members of the Audit and Compliance Committee and of the judicial bodies (max. 12 years).

• Election of Council members supervised by FIFA and in accordance with FIFA’s own electoral regulations; all candidates subject to comprehensive eligibility and integrity checks conducted by an independent FIFA Review Committee.

• Greater recognition and promotion of women in football with a minimum of one female representative elected as a Council member per confederation; promotion of women as an explicit statutory objective of FIFA to create a more diverse decision-making environment and culture.

• Disclosure of individual compensation on an annual basis of the FIFA President, all FIFA Council members, the Secretary General and relevant chairpersons of independent standing and judicial committees.

• Enhanced control of money flows.

• Universal good governance principles for confederations and member associations.

• FIFA’s commitment to human rights to be enshrined in the FIFA Statutes.

  • New Football Stakeholder Committee to ensure greater transparency and inclusion through broader stakeholder representation (including players, clubs and leagues).
Photo: My money ha ha... FIFA president Sepp Blatter falls victim to a prank during a press conference. (Copyright CBC)
Photo: My money ha ha…
FIFA president Sepp Blatter falls victim to a prank during a press conference.
(Copyright CBC)

List of FIFA presidents

1904-06: Robert Guerin (France)

1906-18: Daniel Woolfall (England)

1918-21: no president in place following Woolfall’s death

1921-54: Jules Rimet (France)

1954-55: Rodolphe Seeldrayer (Belgium)

1955-61: Arthur Drewry (England)

1961-74: Sir Stanley Rous (England)

1974-98: Joao Havelange (Brazil)

1998-2015: Sepp Blatter (Switzerland)

2016-: Gianni Infantino (Switzerland)

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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67 comments

  1. The thing is though Colin – the development funds doesn’t have to be synonymous with corruption. All that is required is proper accountability for how the funds are used. They could even keep it in a central fund that nations drawdown from for specific approved projects with the money paid directly to the relevant vendor.

  2. Kendall Tull That a fair idea regarding the distribution. But the thing that bugs me about the one country, one vote is this dynamic that was highlighted in this ESPN article just b4 the 2014 WC

    “So how to explain the overwhelming, gushing support he enjoyed Wednesday?

    http://www.espnfc.com/fifa-world-cup/4/blog/post/1875495/blatter-continues-to-survive-as-fifa-president

    To understand it, you need to put yourself in the shoes of the vast majority of FIFA member nations. Most are small, relatively poor and, for the majority of their existence, have watched as the traditional powers — most of them European — hogged the decision-making.

    They credit Blatter for changing the status quo. He pushed to allow more African, Asian and CONCACAF teams into the World Cup. He set about increasing FIFA’s revenues dramatically — through clever TV and sponsorship deals — and then took that money (more than $5 billion for the three-year cycle between 2015 and 2018) and redistributed it around the world. Indeed, according to a FIFA study, every single day they give away more than half a million dollars in development cash that goes to build pitches and provide coaching and equipment to various countries around the globe.”

    Despite UEFA opposition Blatter had rightfully those lesser nations never listened until FIFA ethics committee banned him, because Blatter used their financial vulnerability via direct FIFA assistance via goal projects, other financial aid to gain their votes.

    Reality is the entire football world looks to Europe for betterment of its players financially – cause except for MLS, Liga MX Mexico, Argentine, Brazil leagues – no league outside Europe pays well enough. Many small clubs from unknown leagues around the world basically run a business of selling their best players somewhere in Europe at the 1st opportunity.

    Yet when it comes time to vote for change in FIFA, they all forget the what UEFA does for them & FIFA gifts are enough for them to forget all the accusations that UEFA major nations level (who of course we financial sound) at FIFA/Blatter.

  3. One country one vote. Size shouldn’t matter. England anyone?!

  4. I personally don’t have a problem with the one country, one vote but it cannot be applied to the distribution of the revenues.

    One possible alternative would be to change to a voting system based on number of players but that is complicated and would still favour the larger countries.

  5. I find it ironic that the CFU can do what CARICOM has yet to achieve! ????

  6. This little discussion about the merits of CFU voting as block – makes me wonder that old thought whether in FIFA elections world whether a country like Grenada really should have equal vote influence as Germany.

    Where do people stand of that concept, especially given how Blatter used it to his advantage in various elections?

    • ..Should the PM and the poorest man in the street both have one vote? Is that not the essence of democracy? Or are some animals more equal than others?

    • Ye I don’t have a issue with it in theory – my problem with it in the context of world football is that Blatter learned to use and manipulate the dynamics of what is essentially a very democratic way of voting to his advantage

    • ..Well, that is the way of democracy, is it not? From Trini stand pipes to the organized bribery called lobbying on Capitol Hill in the Land of the Free, that is how the system works. That is how Infantino won. To expect more or better is not realistic..

    • Well democracy from a historical government context its current form with the influence of lobbying in the western world is certainly not perfect democracy.

      But the original intention of democracy the USA established after the french revolution was kind of perfect.

      However in relation to FIFA, we have a case where all the financially sound countries particularly in EUROPE & South America have been calling for Blatter to go – while a lot of the weak financial, irrelevant countries were simply blinded by FIFA funding and ignored the same EUROPE who was asking to look past that and see Blatter for the corrupt fool he was.

      We know if the ethics committee didn’t ban Blatter, majority of them would have still voted for him. So that major flaw in the one country, one vote structure is still very evident.

      I’m not sure how you fix that, but maybe how sports like cricket and Rugby (more so) separates its voting between full member/associate nations could be considered

    • ..You living in a dream world. I don’t know where to start.The “original democracy” of the USA didnt include voting rights for the poor, the slaves and native! “Americans’ did it? And do you know that the early USA had to put down a series of rebellions by the poor and landless? In!any event, differently weighted voting rights will never happen. Forget that. In Trini we got rid of that way back in Cipriani days one hundred years ago. And btw, plenty of them “irrelevant” countries taking care of the great Europe these days. Moreover, don’t fool yourself Blatter had major support from the apparently pure Europe and South America. France, Germany included. Allxyjem pure Europeans engaged in legal bribery to secure WC votes. Beckenbauer was one of Blatter’s greatest supporters. There is no alternative to one country one vote.

    • ..Among other references, google “Shay’s Rebellion..

    • From my recollection of doing European and world history at University, I’m saying the foundations of the democracy in the Western World that USA perfected – not the obvious bad slavery policies that exited for a long time after their independence in 1776, just to be clear.

      America from 1776-1914 (first world war) was the most balanced and ideal democracy human society every experienced where governments showed consistent development – after civilization came out of being rules by kings and monarachs for thousands of years.

      Currently countries like Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia are always quoted as among best places to live in the world because they represent those original ideals of democracy in modern sense – but without slavery policies.

      This is why many people look at democracy now and its too influenced by corporations money – the rich have found a way to make voters votes irrelevant in western elections.

      In general i think the one country, one vote is fine for FIFA. But lets say god forbid in 12 years Infantino gets caught in a Blatter-esque scandal and just because his election pledge of giving more to the various weak financial FAs of the world – means that they ignore calls from the established nations to vote him out – what will we do and say in such a scenario?

    • ..Well don’t propose Europe and USA as bastions of democracy without blemish. Western democracy has always exploited and excluded oppressed peoples and sectors of society. But this ain’t no history or political science class. Accept that one country one vote will ALWAYS be part of FIFA. Also accept that flinging money around is an integral and inescapable part of democracy. Amd who have more corn..

  7. That’s true. In fact, Alana some of the people who moan the loudest were active cheerleaders in the process. And I’m looking particularly at the (England) FA here.
    But many countries, including Trinidad and Tobago, were complicit.

  8. Yeah but you know what? We look for that. Jack and company were allowed to fester for too long. If we had dealt with them internal and strengthened the institutions, fostered integrity, etc, then we’d have men of strength and integrity in key playces now.

  9. …Lack of an inddpendent budget is the least of it. And UNCAF gets avoidance of another CONCACAF president from CFU. LOL. Anything else is a bonus as far as they are concerned..

  10. Well, the CFU never had its own budget. Except for when the CONCACAF president and CFU president was one and the same. The CFU isn’t a real confederation after all.
    I wonder what deal UNCAF gets in Central America though.

  11. ..The name of the game remains “see for yourself”. The Caribbean has been removed from the FIFA ExCo (replaced by Gulati); CFU doesn’t even have an independent budget and relies on CONCACAF financial support; USA and Canada control CONCACAF administration and finances, CFU will have no place in the new Council that will run the confederation. Some CFU members will make private deals and support the Canadian Montagliani in the CONCACAF election. TTFA has evidently already done so. All the new rulers of CONCACAF need is pliable “leaders: in the Caribbean. CFU is dead. The King is dead. Long live the King..

  12. We will see shortly when the Concacaf elections take place. I understand a certain rookie TTFA administrator is considering high office.
    Do you think America is looking for a puppet Keith? Or they want to run it themselves?
    In any case, the administrator I speak of is more concerned with the CFU post as far as I’m aware.
    You don’t have to give up anything as CFU boss. You can theoretically remain TTFA president and keep your football club.
    Unethical maybe. But it’s been done.
    It won’t be allowed at CONCACAF level.

  13. ..The lid of CFU’s coffin was closed in Zurich. Those who would send the final nails in with the CONCACAF election need eleven or twelve Caribbean votes to do so. Count the TTFA among those. Smfh..

  14. ..Plus ca change. All this money is enough to buy all the votes you need. Let’s see how they use it..

    • Excerpt: “Highlighting the “very significant increase” in money he is promising to the voting football associations, two pages are devoted to spelling out the cash on the table. Each of Fifa’s football associations in 209 countries is promised $5m over four years, while the confederations – the six continental blocs including Uefa – will be paid $40m. There is another $4m regionally for youth tournaments and – personally very important to the delegates gathered in Zurich to vote – $1m for travel costs.”

      At present, the TTFA is due US$250,000 per year… Infantino is promising to give us US$1.25 million per year instead! Talk about a windfall if it happens…

  15. Yeah…not at all surprised….

  16. Smh. I look forward to seeing Sunil Gulati get the Ian Alleyne treatment. Imagine he is a “kingmaker.”
    I know the US press (granted you’re only based there Simon Evans) generally adore Sunil.
    I don’t trust him anymore than I would Hayatou.

  17. …For those who believe US influence and power are only wielded directly. Poor CFU..

  18. Well done Gianni ! Make your play!

  19. Really did not like when DJW came out early for Infantino because I thought it would limit TTFA, CFU and CONCACAF leverage. Good call by DJW, hope we reap the fruits of his early loyalty and good decision.

    Maybe this time a TnT President supporting a Swiss head of FIFA will be very fruitful again but for us an not just the TTFA President.

  20. FIFA has only ever had one non-European president in over a century. Amazing. But of course I was always very nervous about that Bahraini Sheikh.

  21. Well Williams going get a nice ride now

  22. A new day has dawned for FIFA. Time to get to work. Lots of mess to clean up.

  23. As they saying on skysports right now – Infantino was working with a marketing company run by Mike Lee of VERO – Strategic Sports Comms Agency based in London. He helped

    – Qatar win 2022 world cup

    – Brazil win either olympics or world cup bid (didn’t hear clearly)

    – London win 2012 olympics

    – Sebastian Coe win IAAF Presidency

    http://www.verocom.co.uk/

  24. ..It is only left to the Caribbean to amputate its own foot in the CONCACAF election now..

  25. ..Supported by elements from Africa and the Caribbean..

  26. status quo maintained. another white man from europe. carry on fifa.

  27. I’m sure the first round of voting surprised him. Closer than I expected as well

  28. He used UEFA money in his campaign but insists it is accounted for? Yeah, sure it is, it was spent on his personal campaign!
    Universal good governance… That wasn’t a thing in writing before? I’m sure it’ll make all the difference now…

  29. I wonder if this means elitism is coming back full force to the world game…

  30. Former Trinidad and Tobago World Cup captain and Manchester United star Dwight Yorke was one of several celebrity backers for Infantino, which included ex-Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and AC Milan coach Fabio Capello. Yorke accompanied Infantino on his visits to several Caribbean islands including St Kitts and Nevis.