Football: Infantino re-elected Fifa president unopposed, promising greater revenues

Fifa president Gianni Infantino speaking after his re-election at the 73rd Fifa Congress in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 16, 2023. He says reserves have soared to US$4 billion under his leadership. PHOTO: AFP

KIGALI, Rwanda – Gianni Infantino was re-elected as Fifa president during the 73rd Congress in Kigali on Thursday, promising record revenues in the next four-year cycle of US$11 billion (S$14.8 billion) as he called for more football to be played around the world.

The 52-year-old Swiss stood unopposed, making his re-election as head of football’s governing body a formality, even if he is not universally popular among member associations for a range of reasons, including pushing for a failed plan to play the World Cup every two years.

“It is an incredible honour and privilege, and a great responsibility,” Infantino said. “I promise to continue serving Fifa and football around the world.

“To those that love me, and I know there are many, and those who hate me... I love you all.”

He confirmed Fifa’s income hit record levels in the last cycle from 2019-22, but promised to substantially raise this again on the back of expanded men’s and women’s World Cups and the introduction of a 32-team Club World Cup.

“Revenues rose to a record US$7.5 billion (to 2022) in a period that was hit by Covid-19. When I arrived, Fifa reserves stood at around US$1 billion, today they are at almost US$4 billion,” Infantino said.

“We promise new record revenues for the next cycle of US$11 billion, and the new Club World Cup is not included in that figure, so it could increase by a couple of billion (more).

“When I hear there is too much football, yes, maybe in some places, but not everywhere. In fact, in most parts of the world there is not enough football played.

“We need way more and not less competitions, we want football to develop worldwide.

“We are discussing organising a women’s Club World Cup and a Fifa World Series in March every two years, when teams are free from playing qualifiers.”

He also said Fifa would continue to review the transfer system to “improve transparency” and suggested that the organisation might discuss a salary cap.

“We must improve our regulations and the Fifa statutes. We will continue to evolve our good governance principles and look at the transfer system, and maybe have a discussion to improve transparency of transfer fees and salaries,” he said.

“It might be necessary to introduce a cap, we have to think how we can do that. We will look at it with all stakeholders and see what we can do.”

Infantino was first elected in an extraordinary congress in 2016 following the resignation of his predecessor Sepp Blatter, and retained his position unopposed three years later.

But this counts as his second term of office and he will therefore be available for a third and final term in 2027. REUTERS

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