Tim Tan Huynh

New FIFA president

26 Feb 2016 — The times are changing at FIFA, I hope.

The new president of FIFA is Gianni Infantino, an Italian-Swiss who’s been the general secretary of UEFA since 2009. He’s also been part of the FIFA Reform Committee. I’ve never heard or read about him until today’s news, but expansion seems to be one of his ideals. This summer’s quadrennial Euro tournament will be the first to have 24 teams and he’s helped this expansion happen. He’s also promised to expand the World Cup to 40 teams.

The election of Infantino is a surprise, even though he’s worked for FIFA at its highest levels. The cynical part of me thinks that Infantino can exploit his attorney background and Swiss citizenship. He’s been working with Michel Platini, the ousted UEFA president, for the past several years, too. We might just hear a different verse of the same song.

On the other hand, FIFA has also elected to implement a list of reforms. The main one is a new FIFA Council that consists of 36 members, including six women. This council replaces the existing Executive Council that has 24 members. FIFA has promised to impose term limits, business-soccer separation, and independent oversight. Infantino assumes the FIFA presidency for the current term that ends in 2019.

The disgraced Sepp Blatter, whose ban has been reduced from 8 to 6 years, can theoretically be the FIFA president again in 2022. Coincidentally, the Qatari World Cup—the contentiously awarded tournament that is arguably the epitome of FIFA corruption—will take place in the same year.