Gianni Infantino insisted that world football’s scandal-tainted governing body had been transformed into an organisation “synonymous with credibility” as he prepared to be re-elected unopposed on Wednesday.
He was addressing the FIFA Congress in Paris, where he will be handed a new four-year term by representatives of the 211 member federations, before the Women’s World Cup begins in the French capital on Friday.
Infantino said: “It is only thanks to you that we have been able to transform FIFA, to transform it into a new FIFA, an organisation that is synonymous with credibility, confidence, integrity, equality, human rights, social engagement, modernity, professionalism and equality.”
The 49-year-old has been in charge of FIFA since February 2016, after succeeding the disgraced Sepp Blatter following the corruption scandal which rocked the organisation.
“Today nobody talks about crises, nobody talks about rebuilding FIFA from scratch, nobody talks about scandals, nobody talks about corruption, we talk about football,” insisted the Swiss-Italian lawyer.
“The very least we can say is that we have turned the situation around.
“In three years and four months, this organisation went from being toxic, almost criminal, to being what it should be, an organisation that develops football, an organisation that cares about football.”
Infantino, the former secretary general of European football’s governing body UEFA, also vaunted the work done in improving FIFA’s financial situation under his leadership, saying the organisation had “regained the trust” of partners.
He said that FIFA revenues had risen from $5-billion to $6.4-billion over the period of his presidency, with cash reserves increasing from $1 billion to $2.75-billion.
FIFA have had to abandon highly controversial plans to expand the World Cup from 32 teams to 48 teams in time for the next tournament in Qatar in 2022.
However, Infantino is pressing ahead with plans for a new Club World Cup, comprising 24 teams, from 2021. The existing format involves just seven clubs.
He hailed the new competition, “which is open, which is inclusive, which is global, which gives the possibility and the opportunity to clubs from all over the world to participate.”
A venue for the first competition has yet to be decided.
© Agence France-Presse