With one of the eight vice-president berths on the Fifa Council reserved for a British representative, Clarke made no secret of his desire to replace David Gill when the former Manchester United chief executive announced his decision to step down last year.
But any hopes of a coronation in the Italian capital were dashed in November when Martin surprisingly threw his hat into the ring, with some sources suggesting the 65-year-old had a good chance of causing an upset.
As it happened, though, Clarke was a comfortable winner in the ballot of European football’s 55 member associations and will now take up a role that comes with a £190,000 salary and generous travel expenses.
Speaking to reporters after the vote, the 51-year-old Englishman explained his election will allow “English football to be represented on the highest stage” and said he was looking forward to joining the global debate on “how we grow football”.
He admitted, though, he has a lot to learn about the role but said “it will be fun, I love football and it’s a good chance to learn more and hopefully make use of the knowledge I’ve acquired”.
Asked if he would accept the Fifa salary and travel expenses, the former Cable and Wireless and Lend Lease chief executive said: “Yes, absolutely. Do I look shy about it?
“If I compare what I get paid for two days a week at the FA, pro rata, compared to what I used to earn, I’ll still be earning a lot less.
“But I didn’t do it for the money and today was the first time I heard that number. It will go through pay as you earn and I’ll give half of it to the government, which is appropriate.”
Clarke’s first Fifa Council meeting will be in Miami next month and the debate is likely to be dominated by Fifa president Gianni Infantino’s plans to revamp the Club World Cup, create a global Nations League and bring forward the expansion of the World Cup from 2026 to 2022.
There is strong opposition to those ideas, though, particularly in Europe.
Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin, who was unopposed for a second four-year term in charge of European football’s governing body and was elected with a round of applause in Rome, made his views on the matter clear in a strong opening speech in congress.
Referring to “projects with too many unanswered questions”, the Slovenian said European football would continue its “wise, prudent and uncompromising” stance in discussions about the international calendar with Fifa, and urged the global body to “show respect” by listening to Uefa’s view.
Clarke said: “I’ve been in football for 20 odd years and most of the lively debates have been about the calendar and money – who gets the date and how much they get for it. It’s always the same.
“I expect a sensible compromise to emerge at some point. Everyone is staking out their positions at the moment but everyone wants to see football well run, via consensus, and I expect we’ll get there.
“(But) if we don’t have a united Uefa position we’ll get no influence whatsoever. So under Aleksander’s leadership we’ll come up with a European position and we’ll take that into the Fifa Council.”
And Ceferin later told reporters that he, too, was “more optimistic” that Fifa was listening and a solution will eventually be reached.
Infantino, who made a short speech at the start of the congress, gave very little away when he spoke to reporters afterwards, saying only that conversations about his various plans were ongoing and the meeting in Miami was still six weeks away.
The reason he wants to shake things up so much was also underlined in Rome, where Gill, in his role as Uefa treasurer, told the member associations that European football will make nearly £5bn next season, “a staggering number”, thanks to its booming European club competitions and Euro 2020. Fifa can only dream of such wealth once every four years and must share its money more widely.
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