FIFA President Gianni Infantino, running unopposed, wins re-election by acclamation at the FIFA Congress in Paris.

A statute introduced earlier this week by the FIFA Council meant there was no need for a vote to give the 49-year-old Swiss his first full four-year term.

Infantino was elected in February 2016 to replace the disgraced Sepp Blatter, who led world soccer’s governing body from 1998 to 2015 before becoming embroiled in one of several high-profile corruption cases involving dozens of high-ranking soccer officials. Blatter is serving a six-year ban from the sport.

“In just over three years, this organization went from being toxic, almost criminal, to being what it should be: an institution that develops football,” said Infantino when addressing the Congress. 

Infantino admitted that his first term was “of course not perfect” and that he had made mistakes but he added “nobody talks about scandals, nobody talks about corruption any more”.

There are corruption cases dating back to Blatter’s era that are still being dealt with by FIFA’s ethics committee. Late last month the former South Sudan FA president was banned for 10 years for misappropriation of funds and bribery from 2014 and 2015.

But Infantino has moved FIFA past the scandals, which had created financial problems as many sponsors jumped ship and legal costs mounted, and returned it to a strong monetary footing.

Revenue from the 2018 World Cup played a large role in the growing FIFA’s coffers. The tournament in Russia made $4.6 billion, up from the $1.7 billion from Brazil 2014. FIFA reported a surplus of more than $1 billion for the 2015-2018 cycle.

The reserves, which in 2017 had dipped below the billion dollar mark, were at a record $2.7 billion by the end of 2018. 

FIFA’s 211 member associations will benefit from the influx of funds, with $1.7 billion earmarked for them in the 2019-2022 cycle. That’s up from the $1.1 billion from the last cycle and the $326 million from the one before that.

Infantino promised that FIFA will be keeping a close eye on how that money is spent.

With a second term as FIFA president secured, Infantino may now draw interest from the IOC as a possible member for 2020.

Traditionally the leader of one of the largest sporting federations would be almost a lock for IOC membership but so far the recent corruption scandals have left Infantino out of the mix. In October, neither Infantino nor IAAF President Sebastian Coe were included among the 10 nominees set to be ratified at the IOC Session in Lausanne later this month.

Photo: FIFA

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