207 nations cast their votes Friday in the most important election in modern football history. After two rounds of voting, it is Gianni Infantino who has been called to the helm of the sinking ship that is FIFA. Will he be the able to pull the organization out of this nose dive? Is he the savior we’ve all been looking for? Can he guide FIFA from the whirlpool of corruption it’s been drowning in?
We aren’t convinced, but we hope so.
Let’s face it, we have reason to be concerned. After all not minutes after the announcement was made, former President and super villain, Sepp Blatter was already sending his endorsement for the new President saying Infantino has “the qualities to continue my work…”
If that is truly the case, we are off to a bad start. But perhaps it is not fair to jump so quickly to conclusions about FIFA’s new leader. True, it’s a bit odd Infantino only threw his name into the hat a few months ago after his upper and assumed Sepp-cessor, Michel Plantini, was banned from all soccer related activities and no longer able to run. And it is interesting to note the fact that like Blatter, Infantino served as Secretary General prior to his election under a president who ended their tenure in heat of controversy. As UEFA’s Secretary General, he also refused to implement or inforce reform of the organizations governance. And, though it is surely just a coincidence, knowing that FIFA’s new Swiss leader’s hometown of Brig sits just 6 miles apart from that of former President Blatter’s hometown Visp is strangely off-putting.
But, let’s keep an open mind. On the Brightside, Infantino has not been accused of human rights violations unlike runner up Sheikh Salman. So at least we know it could be worse…
The fact of the matter is that regardless of who won the election, the whole world is looking to them through a lens of extreme scrutiny. Talk of reform is just that, talk. Infantino’s biggest proposals include expanding the World Cup tournament from 32 to 40 teams, allocating more development funds to smaller nations, and transparency in regards to wages and World Cup host selection processes. All eyes will be on him to see if he can do more than talk the talk and follow through with his promises. Actions speak louder than words, so we will remain skeptical until proven otherwise. Luckily FIFA’s ethics committee has been working overtime to pass reforms that, if enforced, should greatly aid in areas of financial transparency and fairness.
Will Infantino be the man to restore FIFA’s reputation? We will watch in anticipation to find out, but we flipping hope so. I don’t know about you, but we’re ready to get focus back to the game.