ZURICH: Gianni Infantino was elected president of world football federation FIFA at its extraordinary elective congress in Zurich on February 26, 2016. This is a chronicle of milestone along his first year journey:
Feb 25: Infantino writes to all FAs saying that this is “a crossroads moment for FIFA . . . to embrace change” and describing himself as a man who “keeps his promises, someone with genuine core values, with a fully costed plan for the future and with a proven track record of delivering commercial growth, good governance and credible programmes of investment and development . . . This is what FIFA should be about – football development! Not politics, political intrigues or personal attacks.”
Feb 26: Infantino is elected by congress in Zurich after a second round of voting. Needing a simple majority of the 104 from among the 207 eligible votes he polled 115, followed by Sheikh Salman (88), Prince Ali bin Al Hussein (seven) and Jerome Champagne (none). He promises to “win back the respect of the whole world.”
Mar 03: Infantino throws his support behind video referee testing, thus reversing the UEFA policy he maintained under Michel Platini.
Mar 16: Infantino endorses FIFA’s legal action in the US to reclaim millions of dollars from the FIFAGate fraudsters.
Mar 18: Infantino signs up the first (and so far last) major World Cup sponsor of his presidency, China’s Wanda Group.
Apr 06: Infantino is caught up in the Panama Papers farrago after his signature is found on TV rights contracts from his days as head of UEFA’s legal division. He criticises media reporting of the issue.
Apr 20: Infantino, on his first presidential visit to Russia, praises Russia’s preparations for the 2018 World Cup finals.
Apr 22: Infantino, having flown on to Qatar, tells the 2022 World Cup hosts they must rise to the challenge on World Cup workers’ welfare.
May 13: FIFA Congress, in Mexico City, wipes away – at Infantino’s instigation – the independence of its judicial bodies (including the ethics committee). Domenico Scala resigns as audit and compliance chairman in protest. Original reform leader Mark Pieth attacks Infantino for undermining “the centre piece of the reforms.” Jordan’s Prince Ali says Infantino’s actions represent a “complete betrayal” of the reform programme . . . Infantino also springs on both FIFA council and congress the surprise of Senegalese United Nations co-ordinator Fatma Samoura as new secretary-general.
May 28: Infantino attends the UEFA Champions League Final in Milan and then flies down to Rome for a widely-publicised family audience with Pope Francis.
May 30: Infantino appoints Marco Villiger, previously legal director, as deputy secretary-general (commercial/administrative sector) and Zvonimir Boban, former Croatia midfielder, as DSG (development and competitions).
Jun 03: Infantino is alleged by media reports in Germany to have ordered the destruction of a recording of a tense FIFA Council meeting before congress at which he railed against his pay rate.
Aug 05: The ethics committee, on a reportedly split vote, decides against opening a formal investigation into allegations concerning Infantino’s travel and use of his presidential expense account.
Oct 13: Infantino his ‘Vision 2.0’ for the future of FIFA and council agrees to decide in January on World Cup expansion.
Nov 11: Long-serving and respected medical chief Jiri Dvorak becomes the most high-profile of an increasingly lengthy list of abrupt departures.
Jan 05: In a clear sign that Infantino’s staff culling has not finished FIFA appoints external mediators to “resolve conflicts” relating to dismissals.
Jan 10: FIFA Council approves Infantino’s proposal to expand the World Cup to 48 teams from 2026 and embrace co-hosting.