KEIR RADNEDGE in ZURICH: Defeated FIFA presidency Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa sent out a challenge to Gianni Infantino in a concession statement.
The Bahraini president of the Asian Football Confederation had been a narrow favourite heading into the extraordinary congress but clearly failed to gain the support for which he had hoped in not only the Americas but also Oceania.
His strategy of attacking Gianni Infantino’s pledge on development spending – a crucial issue for dozens of small associations – may well have proved a massive own goal.
Sheikh Salman, who remains a FIFA vice-president, said: “The AFC looks forward to working with the new-look FIFA and its new president to reform the world football governing body and to reinstate football’s credibility globally.
“In these unprecedented times world football needs unity. With the FIFA reform package having been voted through today there is now real momentum for world football to reinstate its credibility.
“The new FIFA needs to become more inclusive and reflect the diversity of world football. I trust Gianni Infantino will provide the leadership to achieve this, as well as the rest of the reforms that are now urgently needed.”
Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, the first and only man to lose two successive FIFA elections, could take a great deal of pride in his campaign, his address to delegates and then his decisive role as king-maker between the first and second rounds of voting.
He explained: “I ran for president because I was convinced that there are many good and honest people in FIFA who are ready for reform. My campaign was always about giving voice to their aspirations and raising issues that need to be addressed.
“That goal has been accomplished.
“I congratulate Gianni Infantino and I wish him all the best. Now we will see which path FIFA takes. I sincerely hope that the reforms approved today we’re not just a band aid and that today’s events lead to a better future for FIFA and for football.”