ZURICH. — Zifa are set to get a $5 million payment after Gianni Infantino was elected the new FIFA president yesterday, with the Swiss lawyer being hailed for being “not a politician, not a superstar” and a reform-minded administrator, who can lead the scandal-plagued football body into a brave new world.
The 45-year-old multilingual Swiss-Italian lawyer ended Sepp Blatter’s controversial, rollercoaster 18 years in charge.
Infantino promised every member association here yesterday that he would ensure they get $5 million each from FIFA in development aid, something that appeared to swing the vote in his favour.
ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa was one of those who quickly congratulated Infantino with the Harare businessman being seen, live on BBC, embracing the new FIFA president and spending a moment discussing with him.
It is believed that Southern African nations voted for Infantino, after he toured this region last week and even visited Robben Island.
“He’s not a politician. He’s not a superstar. He’s just very together, very organised,” said Greg Dyke, chairman of England’s Football Association.
“He has run Uefa really well and he’ll be great as the president of Fifa.”
“I think we can be more optimistic about the future of Fifa now than we could have been certainly a week ago, after a terrible year. It’s been a corrupted organisation for a long time and now I think this is some hope for the future.”
Infantino had served for seven years as general secretary of Uefa where he was Michel Platini’s right-hand man.
But with Platini serving a six-year ban, Infantino entered the race and sensationally snatched the job so coveted by Platini.
Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko, whose country controversially won the 2018 World Cup, also said Infantino was the right man for the job.
“I am satisfied. We have supported him from the start,” Mutko told TASS news agency.
“I hope that everything he has planned will be realised. Football needs a pragmatic and experienced man like him.”
Francois Carrard, who headed Fifa’s independent reform committee, said Infantino represented the “best possible outcome”.
“He was always promoting the most aggressive reforms. He knows football,” said Carrard.
Infantino’s election also brought praise from former players — both the tongue-in-cheek and the serious.
“Have this weird feeling that Gianni Infantino will pull off his mask to reveal Sepp Blatter,” wrote former England striker Gary Lineker on Twitter.
Portugal legend Luis Figo, who once even pondered entering the race for the Fifa presidency, said the arrival of Infantino represented a new dawn for the sport.
“Congratulations @Gianni2016 finally the change arrived — it’s time for a new era in Fifa,” tweeted Figo.
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“This is what was needed to help advance football again. This is what Fifa needed . Infantino’s campaign was amazing. . . but now the real work begins.” — Dutch football federation (KNVB) director of football Bert van Oostveen
“This is magnificent. It’s quite emotional when in four months you have managed to get most of the world behind you. I expect a lot from Gianni We should welcome him as the new president of Fifa.” — KNVB president Michael van Praag.
“I am sure Fifa under the able leadership of Mr. Infantino will continue to give India its due importance and cooperation for the development and promotion of football.” — All-India Football Federation (AIFF) vice-president Subrata Dutta to AFP.
“I am happy as this is the best solution for Fifa. I liked that the campaign was conducted very correctly, very democratically with mutual respect.” — Belgian Fifa executive committee member Michel D’Hooghe. — AFP.
Results of the elections for the office of FIFA President:
HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein: 27 votes
Shk. Salman Bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa: 85 votes
Jérôme Champagne: 7 votes
Gianni Infantino: 88 votes
HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein: 4 votes
Shk. Salman Bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa: 88 votes
Jérôme Champagne: 0 votes
Gianni Infantino: 115 votes. — Sports Reporter/AFP.