Gianni Infantino was re-elected FIFA president on Thursday after running without an opponent. His term is until 2027.
The 52-year-old Swiss lawyer won by acclaim instead of a formal vote by the congress of 211 member federations.
The voting system, however, did not register the number of dissident voices.
“To all those who love me, and I know there are so many, and also those who hate me, I know there are a few: I love you all,” Infantino told delegates during the 73rd Congress in Kigali.
After the World Cup in Qatar ended in December, FIFA had some $4 billion (€ 3.77 billion) reserves — and Infantino thinks there’s more to come. FIFA has projected a record revenue of $11 billion through the men’s 2026 World Cup, which will be jointly hosted by the US, Canada and Mexico.
“If a CEO tells the stakeholders that the products were multiplied by seven I believe that they would keep that CEO forever,” Infantino told FIFA members. “They would love for this story to keep on going.”
“But I am here for a four-year cycle only,” said Infantino.
The Swiss lawyer first took the position in 2016 after Sepp Blatter was removed from office following a corruption crisis.
FIFA allows presidents to have a maximum of three four-year terms. Since Infantino was initially elected to replace Blatter, he has argued that his first three years did not count as a full term, and he is likely to remain at the helm of the soccer ruling body until 2031.
Earlier this week, FIFA said the men’s tournament in North America will start with 12 groups of four teams and will feature 104 matches — a significant increase from the 64 at the most recent World Cup.
The women’s World Cup, next held in Australia and New Zealand later this year, will also feature 32 teams, up from 24 teams in 2019.
He is also planning to introduce an expanded Club World Cup tournament to be held every four years starting in 2025 and featuring 32 teams.
“We need more, not fewer, competitions worldwide,” Infantino told delegates on Thursday.
The FIFA boss has staunchly defended Qatar, which hosted the last world cup, amid a backlash against Doha’s treatment of migrant workers, women, and the LGBTQ community.
His support for Qatar, where he relocated in 2021, prompted criticism against him, particularly among European member federations.
Lise Klaveness, the president of Norway’s Football Federation, had said she would not support Infantino’s re-election. She also urged the Congress to discuss “FIFA’s responsibilities to remedy human rights abuses” in relation to the Qatar World Cup and future tournaments.
But despite the pushback, Infantino’s European opponents were not able to put forward a candidate to stand against him.
fb/rc (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)