Gianni Infantino elected FIFA president

Gianni Infantino has been tasked with rebuilding FIFA’s bludgeoned reputation after being elected the new president of world football’s governing body.

After a stalemate in the first round of voting, Infantino swept to victory in round two – receiving 115 of the 207 votes cast to eclipse the sought 50 per cent majority. Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa took second with 88 votes in the four-horse race.

Infantino, who will hold the post until 2019, was visibly emotional during his victory speech in Zurich and vowed to restore FIFA’s credibility.

The lawyer only joined the FIFA race in October, one day before the deadline for nominations, as an alternative to Michel Platini, who was banned from football along with former FIFA chief Sepp Blatter for ethics violations.

WHAT INFANTINO SAID

“Dear friends, I cannot express my feelings in this moment,” he announced at the FIFA congress.

“I told you I went through a journey, an exceptional journey, a journey which made me meet a lot of fantastic people, who love football and breathe football and live football every day.

“We will restore the image of FIFA and the respect of FIFA and everyone in the world will applaud us.

FIFA presidential candidate Gianni Infantino of Italy and Switzerland makes a speech
FIFA presidential candidate Gianni Infantino of Italy and Switzerland makes a speech – Reuters

“I want to work with all of you together in order to restore and rebuild a new era of FIFA where we can put again football at the centre of the stage.

“FIFA has gone through sad times, moments of crisis, but those times are over. We need to implement the reform and implement good governance and transparency. We also need to have respect.

“We’re going to win back this respect through hard work, commitment and we’re going to make sure we can finally focus on this wonderful game.”

HOW THE VOTE UNFOLDED

A tedious process, which saw 207 delegates slowly cast their votes in Zurich, was extended when the first round failed to produce a winner.

The FIFA presidential elections take their toll on a delegate of Guinea
The FIFA presidential elections take their toll on a delegate of Guinea – Reuters

However, when the stipulation for victory was cut to 50 per cent – down from two-thirds – Infantino managed to boost his tally to take a comfortable victory ahead of Sheikh Salman.

Prince Ali bin Hussein received just four votes – down from a first-round haul of 27 – while Jerome Champagne finished without a single vote.

Second round vote result (50 per cent majority required)

  • Infantino: 115 votes
  • Sheikh Salman: 88 votes
  • Prince Ali: 4 votes
  • Champagne: 0 votes

First round vote result (two-thirds majority required)

  • Infantino: 88 votes
  • Sheikh Salman: 85 votes
  • Prince Ali: 21 votes
  • Champagne: 7 votes

Tokyo Sexwale dropped out of the race earlier on Friday, bizarrely announcing to delegates: “it’s your problem now.”

Gianni Infantino
Gianni Infantino – Reuters

BLATTER’S RESPONSE

The disgraced 79-year-old released a statement following the result, in which he was somewhat flattering in respect to his own reign.

“I congratulate Gianni Infantino sincerely and warmly on his election as the new president,” the statement read.

“With his experience, expertise, strategic and diplomatic skills he has all the qualities to continue my work and to stabilize FIFA again.”

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