Infantino starts to change FIFA's image with budget flight

Fri Mar 4, 2016 4:34pm EST
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By Mike Collett

CARDIFF (Reuters) - New FIFA president Gianni Infantino sent a clear message that his leadership style would be very different from his predecessor Sepp Blatter when he flew to his first official overseas appointment by budget airline on Friday.

Infantino, elected to run soccer's world governing body last Friday, flew from Geneva to Bristol by easyJet instead of taking a private plane, which was Blatter's preference.

He then got stuck in traffic on the 44-mile (70.81 km) drive to the Welsh capital, Cardiff, where he is attending the annual meeting of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), soccer's law-making body.

"It was the easiest and best option for me," the 45-year-old told reporters at a news conference ahead of Saturday's meeting. "We are normal people and we have to behave like normal people."

FIFA's image under Blatter took an endless hammering because of the scandals that dominated his 17-years as president, and Infantino stressed he would work tirelessly to rebuild FIFA's image as a credible, responsible organization fit for purpose.

First class air travel, the grandest limousines and nights in the best hotels would all be consigned to the past as the new president implements cost-saving measures.

"Obviously, there will be occasions when I might need to take a private plane if I have to go to three countries in one day, but everyone in FIFA should be working to optimize the costs. We have to send the right signals.

"I don't always have to go to a match wearing a suit and tie. I am going to see Swansea play Norwich tomorrow, I won't wear a tie."   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