Gianni Infantino elected Fifa president: Swiss-Italian pledges to 'build bridges, not build walls'

The Swiss-Italian, who leaves his post as general secretary at Uefa, defeated nearest rival Sheikh Salman

Fifa president Gianni Infantino has pledged to unite world football after winning the election to succeed Sepp Blatter at the world governing body.

The Swiss-Italian, who leaves his post as general secretary at Uefa, defeated nearest rival Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa with 115 votes during the second ballot in Zurich, 27 more than the Bahraini Sheikh.

Blatter announced he would leave Fifa in May amid allegations against himself and the wider organisation of corruption which eventually led to the 79-year-old being dealt with an six-year ban for a “disloyal payment” of £1.3m made to Uefa counterpart Michel Platini.

But Infantino has insisted he is the man to lead the organisation into a new era of transparency, saying: “I said today we have to build bridges, not build walls. Football can certainly do that. I want to focus on football.”

Infantino is a lawyer from Brig in the Valais region of Switzerland and plans to propose that the World Cup be expanded from 32 teams to 40 in an attempt to ensure smaller footballing nations are represented at the tournament. 

“Today it was an election, but not a war," he said. "It was a competition, but not a fight. It was a sporting contest. An election you win, you lose and then life goes on.

“Now we turn the page, we start to work, we work good together and I show the whole world I'm not a candidate of Europe or wherever. I'm a candidate of football and football is universal.

“This is what we'll start to do now in Fifa to work with everyone for the development of football and not to do politics, to speak about divisions, to speak about barriers.”

Comments