KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Ramon Vega’s tilt at the FIFA presidency has evaporated like so much hot air; Gianni Infantino will stand unchallenged for re-election at the world federation congress in June.
Infantino was elected in 2016 to undertake a three-year completion of the mandate to which banned and disgraced Sepp Blatter had been elected a year earlier.
Ironically, though Infantino had been previously the general secretary of UEFA which put his name forward, the European federation is the only only one of FIFA’s six confederations to have reservations about his work.
European members of the governing FIFA Council have been angered by Infantino’s attempt to rush through a massive sale of FIFA’s broadcast and internet rights as part of a package to revamp the Club World Cup and create a Global Nations League.
These issues are no problem for Africa, Asia, South and North America plus Oceania, all of whose national associations welcome the prospective ramping up of FIFA’s development largesse in their direction.
Under new term limit regulations an individual may serve a maximum of three four-year stints in office which means that Infantino, having completed Blatter’s mandate, could remain in office in 2031 if he – and the rest of the worldwide gme – so wished.
Infantino announced his wish to stand for re-election at last year’s congress in Moscow on the eve of the opening of the World Cup finals.
He said then that financial figures had far exceeded projections “in spite of the worst crisis FIFA has experienced” and that, in effect, he had rescued a body “which was clinically dead as an organisation.”
He had added: “Everybody knows exactly now where the money comes from and where it is destined. There are no longer additional costs in the balance sheet. Everything is clearly documented and clearly traceable.
“We published the Garcia report [into the 2018/2022 World Cup award scandal] that had been hidden away for four or five years and we also introduce an application system that is solid, transparent and reliable for the World Cup hosting in 2026.”
“Some were predicting God knows what dark days for the future of FIFA finances especially if we were to invest more in development.
“But at the end of this 2015-18 cycle the original projection and budget which was $5bn will, at the end, foresee over $6.1bn – more than $1.1bn more than what was expected four years ago and in spite of the worst crisis FIFA has experienced.
“I’m also proud that, instead of $350m we now have $1.4bn invested in football development. It is your money and you and your children and your boys and girls have to benefit from the revenues of FIFA.”
The rest of the footballing world largely sees it that way because, for all Europe’s reservations about Infantino’s personal style and projects, no-one ever appeared likely to emerge from the establishment woodwork to challenge him.
Only Vega, the Swiss international turned finance manager, recently put his head half-heartedly above the parapet; FIFA has confirmed today that he failed to gain even the minimal five FA nominations he would have required to confirm a candidacy.
Vega had said: “Because of the great response and the positive reactions that I have from many sides I take this task seriously.”
Unfortunately for his short-lived campaign, no-one else did.
** Aleksander Ceferin will be re-elected unopposed at the annual congress of European federation UEFA in Rome tomorrow/Thursday.