Infantino waved in for second term as FIFA president

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Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, left, with FIFA President Gianni Infantino at the 69th FIFA Congress at Paris Expo, Porte de Versailles in Paris. (AFP)
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FIFA President Gianni Infantino, left, is congratulated by Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa after being re-elected by acclamation for a second term at the 69th FIFA Congress at Paris Expo, Porte de Versailles in Paris. (AFP)
Updated 05 June 2019

Infantino waved in for second term as FIFA president

  • It was a formality that the 49 year-old would be waved through for a new four-year mandate, until 2023, as he stood unopposed at the FIFA Congress in Paris
  • The FIFA Council chose to back his re-election by acclamation, with Infantino now hoping to build on the work he started in February 2016, when he was voted in to succeed Sepp Blatter

PARIS: Gianni Infantino said Wednesday he had turned FIFA into an organization “synonymous with credibility” as he was re-elected for a second term as president of world football’s governing body.
It was a formality that the 49 year-old would be waved through for a new four-year mandate, until 2023, as he stood unopposed at the FIFA Congress in Paris.
The FIFA Council chose to back his re-election by acclamation, with Infantino now hoping to build on the work he started in February 2016, when he was voted in to succeed the disgraced Sepp Blatter at the head of the organization.
Eager to “open up” and “globalize” the game, he will now push ahead with already approved plans to expand the Club World Cup to 24 teams, and with his ambition of expanding the World Cup itself to 48 teams.
As he addressed the 211 members of the Congress in the French capital, where the Women’s World Cup begins on Friday, Infantino claimed credit for the success of the 2018 men’s World Cup in Russia, the “transparent” bidding process for the 2026 tournament and the introduction of Video Assistant Referees into the game.
He said he was now at the head of “a new FIFA, an organization that is synonymous with credibility, confidence, integrity.”
“Today nobody talks about crises, nobody talks about rebuilding FIFA from scratch, nobody talks about scandals, nobody talks about corruption, we talk about football,” insisted the Swiss-Italian lawyer, formerly secretary general of European governing body UEFA.
“The very least we can say is that we have turned the situation around.
“In three years and four months, this organization went from being toxic, almost criminal, to being what it should be, an organization that develops football, an organization that cares about football.”
Infantino has overseen a major increase in FIFA’s income, with cash reserves increasing from $1 billion to $2.75 billion over his first term.
“FIFA has today also the most solid financial situation ever and is coming out of the period of its worst crisis,” he claimed.
FIFA have had to abandon highly controversial plans to expand the World Cup from 32 teams to 48 in time for the next tournament in Qatar in 2022.
The radical change to the tournament will now have to wait until 2026, but Infantino has already got the green light for a flagship 24-team Club World Cup starting in 2021.
The existing format involves just seven clubs. A venue for the new-look competition has still to be found.
“My philosophy as FIFA president is one of openness and as long as I am president of FIFA I will push as hard as I can to have more global worldwide competitions, possibilities, openness for everyone to be able to play,” he said.
“The more we are open, the more we do, the better it is.”
Infantino previously worked closely with Michel Platini, but the suspended ex-head of UEFA this week attacked the FIFA chief, saying he had “no legitimacy” and accusing him of having mocked women’s football.
However, Infantino pointed to the appointment of Senegal’s Fatma Samoura as Secretary General and to the fact that women now made up 20 percent of all those involved in FIFA Committees as he defended his work done in that area.
“It is only 20 percent, but before it was four percent. We need to be better, we will be, but we start, we move, we progress,” he said.
“The Women’s World Cup in France this year we will have the explosion of women’s football,” he added.
That tournament will begin on Friday when hosts France play South Korea in Paris, and will run until July 7.


Russia banned from Olympics, World Cup over doping

Updated 09 December 2019

Russia banned from Olympics, World Cup over doping

  • WADA's executive committee handed Russia the four-year suspension
  • Under the sanctions, Russian sportsmen and women will still be allowed to compete at the Olympics next year

LAUSANNE: The World Anti-Doping Agency on Monday banned Russia for four years from major global sporting events including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, over manipulated doping data.
WADA's executive committee, meeting in Lausanne, handed Russia the four-year suspension after accusing Moscow of falsifying laboratory doping data handed over to investigators earlier this year.
Not only will Russia be ruled out of the next Olympic cycle, but Russian government officials will be barred from attending any major events, while the country will lose the right to host, or even bid, for tournaments.
"WADA's executive committee approved unanimously to assert a non-compliance on the Russian anti-doping agency for a period of four years," WADA spokesman James Fitzgerald said.
Under the sanctions, Russian sportsmen and women will still be allowed to compete at the Olympics next year and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics but only if they can demonstrate that they were not part of what WADA believes was a state-sponsored system of doping.
It will be up to FIFA to stipulate how a team of Russian players can take part in the qualifying matches for the 2022 World Cup.
Euro 2020, in which the Russian city of Saint Petersburg will host four matches, is not affected by the ban because it is not defined as a "major event" for anti-doping purposes.
"They are going to have prove they had nothing to do with the non-compliance, (that) they were not involved in the doping schemes as described by the McLaren report, or they did not have their samples affected by the manipulation," Fitzgerald said.
The independent report by sports lawyer Richard McLaren, released in 2016, revealed the significant extent of state-sponsored doping in Russia, notably between 2011 and 2015.
It led to the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) being suspended for nearly three years previously over revelations of a vast state-supported doping programme.
Full disclosure of data from the Moscow laboratory was a key condition of Russia's controversial reinstatement by WADA in September 2018.
RUSADA chief Yury Ganus told AFP Monday that his country had "no chance" of winning an appeal against the ban, dubbing it tragic for clean athletes.
"There is no chance of winning this case in court," Ganus said, with RUSADA's supervisory board set to meet on December 19 to take a decision on whether to appeal the ban.
"This is a tragedy," he added. "Clean athletes are seeing their rights limited."
The WADA decision was widely predicted, with the body's president, Craig Reedie, having made a presentation Saturday to the Olympic Summit, participants of which "strongly condemned those responsible for the manipulation of the data from the Moscow laboratory".
"It was agreed that this was an attack on sport and that these actions should lead to the toughest sanctions against those responsible," the IOC said, asking that the Russian authorities deliver the "fully authenticated raw data".
Positive doping tests contained in data leaked by a whistleblower in 2017 were missing from the laboratory data supplied in January 2019, which prompted a new inquiry.
Former WADA president Dick Pound, who chaired the commission that in 2015 made damning accusations of mass doping in Russian athletics, said Moscow had this time gone "too far".
"The IOC is a little bit tired about what Russia has been doing and so I see the IOC probably focusing more on athletes who are newer," Pound told AFP.
Pound acknowledged the influential role of Russia -- which in recent years hosted the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics as well as the football World Cup in 2018 -- "on many levels" in the sporting world.
"On the field of play, it is a big, important country. With China and the United States, it's among the sporting giants, so that's influential," he said.
"It's (also) influential because Russia hosts and is willing to host many competitions for international federations, especially those who don't have much money of their own, so they have a considerable influence among the international federations.
"And they've been quite strategic about making sure that they get Russians into positions on international federations. So they have an impact from inside as well as from outside."