(ATR) FIFA president Gianni Infantino borrowed from Donald Trump’s playbook in defending his organization’s commitment to reform in the wake of multiple corruption scandals.
“There’s a lot of fake news and alternative facts about FIFA circulating, FIFA-bashing has become a national sport, especially in some countries,” said Infantino, addressing the FIFA Congress in Bahrain on Thursday.
“Sadly the truth is not necessarily the truth, but it is what people believe is true.
“FIFA has changed now, this is a new FIFA and we are new people here and we act with facts, not with words.”
Infantino says corruption will “never again” happen at football’s governing body.
His comments followed widespread criticism in the media and on social media of Tuesday’s recommendation by the FIFA Council, which is led by Infantino, to not renew the terms of FIFA’s ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert and chief ethics investigator Cornel Borbely.
Borbely told reporters on Wednesday that the Council’s decision “amounted to the end of the reform process” for FIFA. He added that the move came as “several hundred” investigations into alleged corruption were ongoing and that it was not clear whether these would continue to be pursued.
The Council’s choices to replace Eckert and Borbely were approved to four-year terms by an overwhelming majority of the FIFA Congress on Thursday.
Colombian lawyer Maria Claudia Rojas takes over the investigative position and former European Court of Justice president Vassilios Skouris from Greece will now run ethics.
The Congress also approved, with 93 percent of the valid votes, the Council recommendations for the next stages of the bidding process to select the host or hosts of the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
The CONCACAF bid, with the United States, Canada and Mexico sharing duties, wanted to fast-track the process, moving the decision up to May 2018 from May 2020.
Instead, the new process includes a three-month period – until August 11 – for member associations from Africa, Oceania and South America to express their interest in hosting the tournament. Europe and Asia are not allowed to bid, since Russia and Qatar are hosting the next two World Cups.
The decision on whether to select any of the bidders as the host(s) of the 2026 FIFA World Cup will be taken by the 68th FIFA Congress, which will convene in Moscow on June 13, 2018 ahead of the opening match of the FIFA World Cup in Russia.
In other business, the Congress approved a proposal to let the Council decide on how to deal with a dispute between Palestine and Israel over the presence of six Israeli football clubs in the West Bank.
FIFA says the Council has committed to deciding on the matter at its next meeting on October 27, though the actual deadline is next March.
The Congress also approved FIFA’s budget plans for 2018 and their auditor’s report and financial statements for 2016.
By INSIDER Gerard Farek
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