FIFA President Gianni Infantino delivers his speech during the 69th FIFA congress in Paris, June 5, 2019. (ALESSANDRA TARANTINO / AP)
PARIS — Over three years after taking office to replace the scandal-hit Sepp Blatter, Gianni Infantino got the confirmatory vote of FIFA's 211 member associations, re-elected on Wednesday as president of the world football's governing body.
The 49-year-old Swiss-Italian was the sole candidate running for the 2019-2023 term and the traditional vote was thus replaced with applause at FIFA's 69th Congress.
Promising not to "stand still" but to develop the game and "defend football", an emotional Infantino said in his closing speech that his priority is to create more youth competitions, to continue on developing women's football and to organize a "world convention on football development".
Ahead of the announcement of his re-election, Infantino summarized what the FIFA has achieved under his reign, given the task of restoring the governing body's reputation after his predecessor Blatter's multiple corruption scandals.
Today nobody is talking about crisis, nobody is talking about rebuilding from scratch, nobody is talking about corruption. We have turned things around. FIFA has gone from being toxic, almost criminal, to what it should be, an organization that develops and cares about football
Gianni Infantino, FIFA President
"Today nobody is talking about crisis, nobody is talking about rebuilding from scratch, nobody is talking about corruption. We have turned things around. FIFA has gone from being toxic, almost criminal, to what it should be, an organization that develops and cares about football," he said.
Taking over the post from the disgraced Blatter in February 2016, Infantino has introduced the VAR at the 2018 Russia World Cup and push hard on boosting women's football amid the continuous fight against corruption.
A generation of soccer leaders in North and South America were swept from power in 2016 after American and Swiss prosecutors targeted financial corruption linked to the game's governing bodies.
In the Infantino era, four continental soccer organizations each lost elected FIFA Council members amid allegations of corruption or financial misjudgments.
FIFA senior vice-president David Chung of Papua New Guinea was banned for 6 1/2 years. Kwesi Nyantakyi of Ghana was banned for life. Sheikh Ahmad of Kuwait withdrew his re-election candidacy when implicated in bribing voters. Reinhard Grindel of Germany resigned.
Infantino was also investigated, and soon cleared, in 2016 by the FIFA ethics committee for his use of private jets. The investigators and judges who ran that case, from Germany, Guam and Switzerland, were gone within a year.
Another independent official left abruptly weeks after finding that Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko was too conflicted to retain his FIFA Council seat while also implicated in a state-sponsored doping scandal.
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