A new era at FIFA has begun. On Friday in Zurich, Gianni Infantino was elected as FIFA president, replacing the outgoing and scandal-ridden Sepp Blatter.
Infantino, 45, won the election, beating out Shiekh Salman of Bahrain 115-88 in the second round of voting. The voting entered the second round after no candidate received 2/3 of the votes in the first round. Infantino had 88 votes, Salman had 85, Prince Ali received 27 and Jerome Champagne finished with 7 in the initial round.
"I cannot express my feelings in this moment. I told you I went through a journey, an exceptional journey, a journey in which made me meet many fantastic people ... Many people who deserve that FIFA is highly respected," Infantino said.
"I would like to thank all of you ... It was a great sign of democracy in FIFA."
A multi-lingual lawyer of Italian heritage, Infantino speaks Italian, French, German, English and Spanish. He is well known around the world for also hosting various European draw shows.
Truly humbled by today's decision. Let's bring FIFA forward together.— Gianni Infantino (@Gianni_2016) February 26, 2016
FIFA has been rocked by scandals concerning corruption, bribery and more. Blatter, who has been in office since 1998, was banned for eight years in December over a $2 million payment made to UEFA president Michele Platini for work performed over a decade ago. Platini, who was a candidate for FIFA president before payment information was public, was also suspended for eight years, with both seeing it reduced to six years this week. Infantino quickly announced his candidacy after it became more than clear that Platini would not be able to run due to the payment.
"The time has come, ladies and gentleman, to return to football," Infantino said.
WHAT TO KNOW:
1. Infantino has pledged to propose expansion of the World Cup from 32 teams to 40, which likely appeals to smaller nations who have never qualified. Those votes from smaller nations may have sealed the win for the Swiss.
2. The U.S. voted for Infantino in round two after going for Prince Ali in the first round. Speaking to Fox Sports, Gulati said he had met with Infantino prior to the election and told him that he would "be with him when it mattered most." Gulati also said he spoke to Infantino about the 2026 World Cup, with the hope of it being in the United States.
3. This isn't like the U.S. presidential election where you win in November and wait till January for the inauguration. Infantino is president right now, and Blatter is out.
4. Speaking of Blatter. He seems to be somewhat pleased at the news of Infantino winning the election.
Blatter said Infantino "has all the qualities to continue my work and to stabilize FIFA again," per the AP.
HOW LONG WILL HE BE IN CHARGE?
Presidential terms are for four years, with the ability to seek reelection upon the end of the term. There is a proposed reform to set a term limit at three, with each term at four years. So it remains to be seen for how long he could serve in the role, but if he does well, gets the votes in future elections and the reform goes through, it would be a maximum of a dozen years.