Gianni Infantino

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Gianni Infantino
Gianni Infantino 2018.jpg
Infantino in 2019
9th President of FIFA
Assumed office
26 February 2016
Vice PresidentÁngel María Villar
David Chung
Salman Bin Khalifa
Preceded byIssa Hayatou (acting)
Personal details
Born
Giovanni Vincenzo Infantino

(1970-03-23) 23 March 1970 (age 52)[1]
Brig, Valais, Switzerland
SpouseLeena Al Ashqar
Children4
Alma materUniversity of Fribourg
AwardsOrden of Friendship.png Order of Friendship
Signature

Giovanni Vincenzo Infantino (Italian pronunciation: [dʒoˈvanni vinˈtʃɛntso iɱfanˈtiːno]; born 23 March 1970) is a Swiss-Italian[2][3] football administrator and the current president of FIFA. He was elected President of FIFA during the 2016 FIFA Extraordinary Congress in February 2016.[2] He was re-elected as FIFA President in June 2019.[4] In January 2020, he was elected a member of the International Olympic Committee.[5]

Early life[edit]

Infantino was born on 23 March 1970[2] in Brig, Switzerland.[6] He is a son of Italian immigrant parents from Calabria and Lombardy.[7] He studied law at the University of Fribourg.[8] He is fluent in Italian, Spanish, French and German, and also speaks English, Portuguese and Arabic.[6]

Career[edit]

Infantino worked as the Secretary General of the International Center for Sports Studies (CIES) at the University of Neuchâtel.[2]

UEFA[edit]

Infantino started working with the UEFA in August 2000 and was appointed as the Director of UEFA's Legal Affairs and Club Licensing Division in January 2004. He became Deputy General Secretary of UEFA in 2007 and Secretary General of UEFA in October 2009.[2][9] During his time there, UEFA introduced Financial Fair Play and improved commercial support to smaller national associations.[9]

He oversaw the expansion of UEFA Euro 2016 to 24 teams[10] and played a role in the conception of the UEFA Nations League and the UEFA Euro 2020, which took place in then 13 (now 11) European nations.[11]

In 2015, the Greek government decided to introduce a new sports law in response to the recent scandal and acts of violence and corruption mainly in Greek football. Gianni Infantino, as UEFA's general secretary, led the negotiations with the Greek government and supported the Hellenic Football Federation's warning to Greece that it faced suspension from international football for government interference.[12][13]

FIFA[edit]

Infantino with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the 68th FIFA Congress, 13 June 2018
Infantino with Mohammad bin Salman, Nicolas Sarkozy and Juan Carlos Varela at the FIFA World Cup in Russia, 14 June 2018
Infantino with US President Donald Trump in 2019

Infantino was a member of FIFA's Reform Committee.[14] On 26 October 2015, he received the backing of the UEFA Executive Committee to stand for the position of president in the 2016 FIFA Extraordinary Congress. On the same day, he confirmed his candidacy and submitted the required declarations of support.[15] He promised to expand the FIFA World Cup to forty teams.[16]

On 26 February 2016, he was elected FIFA President for a period of three years.[3] Infantino, who holds dual Swiss and Italian citizenship through his parents, became the first Italian to hold the Presidency of FIFA.

In 2017, Infantino criticized the United States travel ban on several Muslim-majority nations. He said "When it comes to FIFA competitions, any team, including the supporters and officials of that team, who qualify for a World Cup need to have access to the country, otherwise there is no World Cup. That is obvious."[17]

In 2019 Infantino accepted the Order of Friendship medal given to him by Vladimir Putin, following the 2018 World Cup.[18][19]

Women's rights[edit]

In Iran, after the 1979 Islamic revolution, women had been banned from stadiums when men's teams are playing.[20] Infantino repeatedly warned Iranian football federation and Islamic Republic of Iran authorities about Iranian women's rights.[21] On 8 September 2019, Sahar Khodayari self-immolated after being arrested for trying to enter a stadium.[22]

Our position is clear and firm. Women have to be allowed into football stadiums in Iran. Now is the moment to change things.[23] Infantino, September 2019

Following that incident, FIFA assured Iranian women that they would be able to attend stadiums starting from October 2019.[22] On 10 October 2019, more than 3,500 women attended the Azadi Stadium for a World Cup qualifier against Cambodia.[24]

Migrant workers[edit]

When questioned about abuses suffered by migrant workers involved in preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Infantino said that migrant workers were being given work and pay rather than charity and that they were proud to contribute to construct the stadiums.[25] The tournament has been condemned by human rights group Amnesty International, who have alleged that workers were subject to forced labour.[26]

Panama Papers[edit]

Infantino was implicated in the FIFA corruption scandal in documents released in the 2016 Panama Papers. They show that UEFA undertook deals with indicted figures where previously they had denied any relationship.[27] Infantino has stated he is "dismayed" at the reports and that he has never personally dealt with the parties involved.[28]

FIFA ethics investigations[edit]

In July 2016, Infantino was suspected to have broken the FIFA code of ethics and was interviewed by the investigatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee.[29]

The investigation was focused on three areas: "several flights taken by Mr. Infantino during the first months of his presidency, human resources matters related to hiring processes in the president's office, and Mr. Infantino's refusal to sign the contract specifying his employment relationship with FIFA".[30]

Even though a document was leaked which showed illegitimate spending of funds by FIFA[29] the matter concerning expenses and governance was not investigated.[30] The document revealed that Infantino had billed FIFA for personal expenses such as £8,795 for mattresses at his home, £6,829 for a stepper exercise machine, £1,086 for a tuxedo, £677 on flowers and £132 on personal laundry. In addition to that he billed the FIFA governing body for an external driver for his family and advisors while he was away.[29]

When Infantino accepted special treatment by the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts Russia and Qatar, the question of a potential conflict of interest was raised. The hosts had organized private jets for Infantino and his staff related to visits in Russia and the Gulf state.[29] The investigatory chamber was of the opinion that no violation had occurred. In addition to that, the chamber found that "human resources matters, as well as Mr. Infantino's conduct with regard to his contract with FIFA, if at all, constituted internal compliance issues rather than an ethical matter."[30]

While the investigatory chamber discharged Infantino, this did not stop criticism. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chairman of FC Bayern München, criticized Infantino for not fulfilling his promises regarding transparency, democracy and governance. "So far this has not succeeded in my eyes," he complained.[31]

In July 2020 further allegations arose when Infantino was accused of having a secret meeting with Michael Lauber, the Attorney General of Switzerland. Lauber offered to resign after a court said he covered up the meeting and lied to supervisors during an investigation by his office into corruption surrounding FIFA. Infantino responded to the allegation by defending himself claiming "To meet with the attorney general of Switzerland is perfectly legitimate and it's perfectly legal. It's no violation of anything."[32]

Personal life[edit]

Infantino is married to Lebanese Leena Al Ashqar; the couple have four children.[6] He is a fan of the Italian club Inter Milan.[33]

References[edit]

  1. ^ FIFA.com
  2. ^ a b c d e "Gianni Infantino". UEFA.com. 8 January 2010. Archived from the original on 16 January 2015. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Gianni Infantino elected FIFA President". FIFA.com. 26 February 2016. Archived from the original on 27 February 2016. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  4. ^ "Who We Are – News – Gianni Infantino is re-elected as FIFA President until 2023". FIFA. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  5. ^ "IOC Session elects three new Members – Olympic News". International Olympic Committee. 10 January 2020. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  6. ^ a b c "The President – Gianni Infantino". FIFA. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  7. ^ "Infantino, l'avvocato di origini calabresi che tifava Inter" (in Italian). sportmediaset.it. 26 February 2016.
  8. ^ "Everything you need to know about Gianni Infantino, the new Fifa president". The Guardian. 26 February 2016. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  9. ^ a b "UEFA Executive Committee supports UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino for FIFA presidency". UEFA.com. 26 October 2015. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  10. ^ Borden, Sam (24 February 2016). "In FIFA Pitch, Gianni Infantino Pushes Expansion and Continuity". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  11. ^ "Thirteen cities to host UEFA EURO 2020". UEFA.com. 25 January 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  12. ^ "UEFA & FIFA warn Greece over government's planned new football laws |thetoc.gr". The TOC In English. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  13. ^ Nicholson, Paul. "Exclusive: Infantino fires second warning shot to Greece over football law proposal – Inside World Football". insideworldfootball.com. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  14. ^ "FIFA Committees – 2016 FIFA Reform Committee – FIFA.com". FIFA.com. Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  15. ^ "Statement from UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino". UEFA.com. 26 October 2015. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  16. ^ Associated Press (10 November 2015). "Gianni Infantino to expand World Cup to 40 teams if elected Fifa president". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  17. ^ "Donald Trump travel ban could prevent USA from hosting 2026 World Cup". The Independent. 9 March 2017.
  18. ^ "WATCH: Vladimir Putin gives FIFA president Gianni Infantino a medal after World Cup praise".
  19. ^ Smith, Rory (25 February 2022). "Soccer, Russia and a Line Drawn Too Late". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  20. ^ Johnstone, Lindsey (11 October 2019). "Watch: Iranian women attend first football match in 40 years". euronews. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  21. ^ "هشدار دوباره فیفا به ایران: به زنان باید اجازه حضور در ورزشگاه داده شود". euronews (in Persian). 19 September 2019. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  22. ^ a b "Fifa 'assured' Iranian women will be able to attend football matches". BBC News. 22 September 2019.
  23. ^ Johnstone, Lindsey (19 September 2019). "Watch: FIFA tells Iran women must be allowed into stadiums". euronews. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  24. ^ "Iran football: Women attend first match in decades". BBC Sport. 10 October 2019.
  25. ^ "Infantino on Qatar: Migrant workers get pride from hard work". AP NEWS. 2 May 2022. Retrieved 6 May 2022.
  26. ^ Bosher, Luke. "Qatar World Cup workers subject to 'forced labour' — Amnesty International". The Athletic. Retrieved 6 May 2022.
  27. ^ Owen Gibson (6 April 2016). "Panama Papers: Fifa president Gianni Infantino pulled into corruption scandal". the Guardian.
  28. ^ "Statement from FIFA President Gianni Infantino". FIFA.com. 5 April 2016. Archived from the original on 7 April 2016.
  29. ^ a b c d "Fifa president Gianni Infantino to be interviewed by ethics committee". BBC Sport. 14 July 2016. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  30. ^ a b c "Fifa president Gianni Infantino cleared of breaching ethics code". The Independent. 5 August 2016. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  31. ^ "German power players Rummenigge and Grindel slam Infantino presidency". Inside World Football. 1 March 2017. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  32. ^ "Gianni Infantino: Legal proceedings launched against Fifa president". BBC. 30 July 2020. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  33. ^ "Infantino presidente Fifa: ecco l'ex re dei sorteggi che amava Altobelli" [Infantino FIFA president: here is the ex-king of draws who loved Altobelli]. Gazzetta.it (in Italian). Retrieved 27 February 2016.

External links[edit]

Preceded by UEFA Chief Executive
2007
Succeeded by
Preceded by UEFA General Secretary
2009–2016
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Issa Hayatou (Acting)
FIFA President
2016–present
Succeeded by
Incumbent