New FIFA head Infantino starts work with friendly kickabout

Mon Feb 29, 2016 1:16pm EST
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By Brian Homewood

ZURICH (Reuters) - Gianni Infantino began his new job as the boss of soccer's governing body FIFA with a friendly football match on Monday, leaving matters such as his own salary for another day.

"I know you can't believe it, but it's not (for the) money that I was candidate to become FIFA president,” he told reporters after a match with employees and guests.

The Swiss said he expected the bidding process for the 2026 World Cup, delayed by the wide-reaching corruption scandal that engulfed the organization last year, to begin before FIFA holds its next congress in Mexico City in May.

The 2018 and 2022 tournaments to be staged in Russia and Qatar must be the "best in history", he said.

Monday's kickabout, played in freezing mist at FIFA headquarters, featured two seven-a-side matches involving employees and former professionals.

"Team Infantino" included former Portugal forward Luis Figo and former Italy defender Fabio Cannavaro.

Infantino, 45, wearing a No. 9 shirt, ran around enthusiastically, but barely touched the ball.

"The hard work starts now, but I wanted to organize a football match with those who make the game what it is," Infantino said.   Continued...

New FIFA President Gianni Infantino leaves the pitch after a friendly football match at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland February 29, 2016.  REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann