Football: Infantino must quickly deal with financial and administrative problems at Fifa

Gianni Infantino will play a football match with Swiss-based Fifa employees on Feb 29, 2016.
Gianni Infantino will play a football match with Swiss-based Fifa employees on Feb 29, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

ZURICH (REUTERS) - Gianni Infantino will mark his first working day as president of football's governing body on Monday by playing in a football match with Swiss-based Fifa employees battered for months by an unfolding corruption scandal.

The match symbolises a return to the primary focus of Fifa that for some has been lost in tales of high-living by top executives and abuses that culminated in the banning of Infantino's veteran predecessor Sepp Blatter for six years.

When he walks into the presidential office at Fifa's headquarters on a Zurich hilltop, the new incumbent will quickly have to deal with financial and administrative problems, bring back sponsors, motivate a demoralised work force and engage with clubs and players who are growing increasingly disillusioned.

Previously general secretary of European football's governing body Uefa, Infantino must also dispel the notion that he was elected to represent only the interests of his own powerful continent.

Some had expected a Bahraini rival to win the post in a tilt towards Asia for the sport.

Fifa has been the subject of criminal investigations in the United States and Switzerland, although these will be lurking uncomfortably in the background rather than an immediate worry.

The same goes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, awarded to Russia and Qatar in a highly controversial vote in 2010 and the subject of the Swiss investigation.

One of the Swiss national's earliest tasks will be to appoint a secretary general to take charge of day-to-day operations, a post Infantino has already indicated will go to a non-European.