Infantino election gives FIFA time to start tackling problems

Sat Feb 27, 2016 8:12am EST
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By Mike Collett

ZURICH (Reuters) - Gianni Infantino's election as FIFA president should give soccer's governing body the time it needs to begin tackling the corruption and other problems that have dragged it into the worst crisis in its 112-year history, current and former officials said.

As well as electing a new president to replace Sepp Blatter on Friday, FIFA signed off on a slew of reforms that may help restore its credibility, even as dozens of its personnel past and present face criminal investigations in the United States and Switzerland.

"This will be a new era for FIFA despite the problems it faces. Let him have time to settle, to see what needs to be done and let everyone calm down a little," Per Ravn Omdal, a former president of the Norwegian FA and FIFA executive committee member during Blatter's early years in charge, told Reuters.

"He has a massive task of course, but he can start work in a totally different atmosphere than the one surrounding FIFA for the last few years."

One FIFA insider who asked not to be named said it may also help that the organization did not pick Sheikh Salman of Bahrain, who had repeatedly had to deny any role in his country's crackdown on pro-democracy protests five years ago.

"If Sheikh Salman had won this election, becoming president after allegations against him involving human rights abuses, the attention from the justice authorities would have been unrelenting," he said.

"The temperature would have gone past boiling point. We can all take a step back now."

Greg Dyke, chairman of the English FA, also welcomed Infantino's win.   Continued...

Newly elected FIFA President Gianni Infantino gives a thumb up as he arrrives for a news conference during the Extraordinary FIFA Congress in Zurich, Switzerland February 26, 2016.  REUTERS/Ruben Sprich