KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS —- Gianni Infantino has delivered a public assurance that he is ‘very happy’ and settled in his role as general secretary of European football federation UEFA.
Infantino’s comment, after a UEFA executive committee meeting in Malta, will reassure European football bosses delighted with his management of the financial and administrative bounties stemming from the worldwide popularity of the Champions League.
The 45-year-old right-hand man to president Michel Platini was responding at a news briefing to a question inevitable after the suspension by FIFA of its own secretary-general Jerome Valcke.
Platini is favourite to land the FIFA presidency next February 26 and it would be logical if he wished to transfer his successful working partnership with Infantno from Nyon to Zurich.
In Malta Infantino was left to try to deflect media questions about FIFA by Platini’s reluctance to front up.
Asked to explain Platini’s absence from the news briefing Infantino told journalists: “It’s normal that I’m here rather than the president to update you on UEFA matters because otherwise, if the president were here, you would only ask questions about FIFA.
“We have read what happened about yesterday’s allegations [concerning Valcke]. They are very serious.
“We all feel very sad about this news coming out on almost a daily basis. But there is a process which has started and will lead to the election of a new FIFA president and to reforms which are certainly necessary so we are all working to make this happen in the best possible way.”
Infantino is one of UEFA’s delegates on the recreated FIFA reform committee which held its first two-day meeting earlier this month under the chairmanship of Swiss lawyer Francois Carrard, a former director-general of the International Olympic Committee.
“Something needs to be done and will be done to restore FIFA’s image,” said Infantino. “FIFA is going through a very difficult period but there is a roadmap, a timeline and a process to bring about the necessary reforms and change in leadership.
“It’s been a great sadness to read this news which tarnishes the image of FIFA and of football.”
Asked about his own position vis-a-vis FIFA, Infantino said: “I’m very happy to be UEFA general secretary because UEFA is a fantastic organisation.”
Infantino said he was not Platini’s “spokesman for his FIFA campaign” but spoke in glowing terms of the support his boss was receiving, not only from within his European constituency but beyond.
“Michel Platini is receiving a lot of support for his candidacy and is focusing on his projects and ideas for FIFA,” said Infantino.
“There is no ‘UEFA candidate’ because it’s national associations who elect the FIFA president so obviously the UEFA president is not only a candidate for Europe but for the world. He is already receiving public backing from different confederations all over the world so this is what he is focusing on and looking forward to this campaign.”
The next opportunity for Platini to face the media – or not – after a UEFA meeting will be on home ground in Paris on December 11.