Gianni Infantino has been re-elected as FIFA president until 2027 after running unopposed at soccer’s world governing body’s congress on Thursday.
The 52-year-old Swiss lawyer, who succeeded the disgraced Sepp Blatter in 2016, was elected by acclamation for a third term, just like four years ago, by delegates from the 211 member federations.
“To all those who love me, and I know there are so many, and also to those who hate me, I know there are some: I love you all,” Infantino told delegates in the Rwandan capital, where the voting system is not works. record the number of dissenting voices.
While FIFA’s statutes currently limit a president to a maximum of three four-year terms, Infantino has already paved the way to stay until 2031, declaring in December that his first three years in charge did not count as a full term.
Infantino, who staunchly defended hosting last year’s World Cup in Qatar when the Gulf state’s treatment of migrant workers, women and the LGBTQ community came into the spotlight, has overseen the expansion of the Cup. men’s and women’s World Cups and huge increases in FIFA revenue.
The president of the Norwegian Football Federation, Lise Klaveness, said she would not support Infantino and presented a proposal to discuss in congress “FIFA’s responsibilities to remedy human rights abuses” in relation to the World Cup. Qatar world and future tournaments.
However, Infantino’s mainly European opponents were unable to present a candidate to take on the man who was once Michel Platini’s number two in UEFA.
– Expanded World Cup –
“There’s a lot to look forward to,” Infantino said as he thought about the next four years, declaring the 2026 World Cup, the first edition to be expanded to 48 teams, will be “the most inclusive World Cup in history.” .
FIFA announced Tuesday that the North American tournament will feature 104 matches, a big increase from the 64 at the most recent World Cup, as it will start with 12 groups of four teams.
The upcoming Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand later this year will be the first to feature 32 teams, up from 24 teams at the last edition in 2019.
Infantino also plans to introduce a new, expanded Club World Cup to be played every four years from 2025 and with 32 teams.
“We need more competitions around the world, not less,” he told delegates at the 73rd FIFA Congress.
Infantino has also announced projected revenue of $11 billion in the four years to 2026, compared with $7.5 billion in the last four-year cycle ending in 2022.
But he said that figure did not include revenue generated by the Club World Cup, suggesting the final amount of money generated will be even higher.
Those better financial results allow FIFA to continue increasing the amount of money it provides in subsidies to the federations, which in turn helps ensure that many of them continue to support Infantino.
To make soccer “truly global,” as Infantino puts it, at a time when top European clubs can amass talent and wealth, FIFA distributes the money evenly.
And so countries like Trinidad and Tobago and Papua New Guinea get the same amount as Brazil, and each get one vote in congress.
As long as the FIFA president keeps the 35 Central American nations, including many Caribbean islands, or the 54 African federations on his side, he need not worry about upsetting the powerful European nations.
That’s why failed plans for a biennial World Cup, or the decision to ban rainbow-themed “One Love” bracelets promoting LGBTQ rights at the World Cup in Qatar, didn’t stop Infantino from considering a new term.
However, the fractures in football show no signs of healing as long as Infantino’s expansion plans continue.
For example, the World Leagues Forum, which brings together 44 leagues from around the world, has complained that FIFA did not consult with them before announcing plans for the new Club World Cup, which will be fitted on a schedule.” already overloaded.”