Posted: 2/26/2016


        Well, Well.. and the winner is...GIANNI INFANTINO,  a 45 year old lawyer from Brig in the Valais district of Switxerland and just 6 miles from Sepp Blatter's (remember him?) home town of Visp.. Been through there many times as it is a train junction for expresses between Switzerland and Italy..

        The new Presiedent has dual Swiss/Italian nationality and is fluent in English, German, French, Italian and Spanish. His predececor was fluent in bribery and corruption.....or at least letting it prosper.

        The voting went to the second round after the first round failed to provide a winner with 2/3rds votes. Infantino 88, Sheikh Salman of Bahrain 85, Prince Ali  of Jordan 17, Jerome Champage 7. Most of the underdogs votes then went to Infantino the second time around, where only a simple majority was needed. 115  of the 207 eligible votes for Infantino, 88 for the Shekh, 4 for Prince Ali, Champagne 0. Tokyo Sexwale the former Ellis Island resident from South Africa and now a multi millionaire mining magnet, withdrew just before the first votes were cast..(Kuwait and Indonesia were ineligible).

         Many people had predicted a first round victory from Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa from the feudal state of Bahrain, the President of the Asian Football Confederation and part of the ruling Bahrainian state heirarchy with a very dubious recent civil rights history. He said that he would not accept a salary...but you bet his private jet and 5 star hotels with a host of hangers on,  would have been charged to FIFA !!

         He had suggested that all of Asia and Africa was in his pocket but it proved wrong. Rumours of payment for votes and the proof being a phone camera shot of the voting slip...and later a few thousand dollars in a little brown envelope,, proved untrue. Prince Ali had even had transparent voting booths built at his expense and flown to Zurich to stop this. FIFA would not allow them to be used but insisted on collecting any mobile phones before delegates entered the voting booth...just in case.

        The last presidential vote to go to a second round was in Frankfurt Congress Hall in 1974 on the eve of the opening match Brazil 0 v Yugoslavia 0. I was present at the voting and that match, and seated at the back of the hall. After the first round without a clear winner the encumbent Sir Stanley Rous, came and sat next to me at a small table to collect his thoughts and write some notes. The Brazilian Joao Havelange won the second vote and immediately chairs were overturned and a mad scramble for Brazilian journalists to run to the podium.

       Havelange had been an Olympic swimmer and water polo player at the Los Angeles and Berlin Olympic Games of 1932 and 1936 and head of delegation in 1958 when Brazil beat Sweden to win Brazil's first World Cuo in Rasunda Stadium,Solna, Stockholm. He had taken funds from the CBD.. Brazilian Sports Federation.. to fund his campaign, travel and payouts...without permission. He handed out little brown envelopes to African voters, which were stated to be for their travel expenses. Rous who had been a referee pioneer and rewritten the laws for FIFA was knighted after organizing the 1948 London Olympics and later became Secretary of the Football Association.

        Havelange had promised to expand the World Cup and increase spots for Africa and Asia and introduce Youth World Cups and more, which he did but kept himself in power from 1974 until 1998 when he helped his Secretary General Sepp Blatter follow him, again for too long....until 2015 and his dramatic downfall and banishment from the game for 8 years, along with Michel Platini. This was reduced to 6 years two days ago... but he is finished..

        ' TOGETHER WE WILL RESTORE THE IMAGE OF FIFA AND THE RESPECT OF FIFA'.  I want to work with all of you together in order to restore and rebuild a new era at FIFA where we can put again football at the centre of the stage. FIFA has gone through sad times, moments of crisis, but those times are over. We need to implement the reform and good governance and transparency. We also need to have respect., GOOD LUCK !!

        Criminal investigations in the USA and Switzerland have resulted in dozens of indictments..mostly in CONCACAF and CONMEBOL. The smaller time thiefs in Africa and Asia who asked for smaller, personal handouts are not the main concern. 

        Earlier in the day new rules were passed with the required 75% to bring in term limits, transparency and the publicizing of Presidential and other major FIFA salaries and the dismantelling of the EXCO to be replaced by a new governing commiission with at least 6 female members.  While we are at it FIFA big wigs have to travel first class instead of business class, stay in the 6 star Bauer Au Lac hotel and receive a $200,000 stipend for going to a few meetings???  Most of them have jobs in associatoions and federations and are not docked money when they go off on FIFA business.

     Swiss authorities twice raided FIFA HQ and took away files and such and are reviewing 150 suspicious financial activities and the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 World Cup to Qatar... before sending more information to US authorities..

    MORE LATER..but a decent start to a new era.