ZURICH (Reuters) - Gianni Infantino opened FIFA’s new museum in his first official act as president of soccer’s governing body on Sunday.
The 45-year-old Swiss, previously general secretary of European soccer’s governing body UEFA, was elected on Friday, ahead of Bahraini Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, to become only the ninth president in the FIFA’s 112-year history.
He inherited an organization in crisis after several dozen soccer officials, some holding high ranks in FIFA at the time, were indicted in the United States while former president Sepp Blatter was banned for six years by FIFA’s ethics committee.
FIFA said it invested 110 million Swiss francs ($110.41 million) on renovating the building with 30 million Swiss francs spent on the museum itself, which features more than 1,000 exhibits.
“This is the place where soccer will be lived and breathed,” said Infantino. “Here you can catch the soccer virus, if you are not already a carrier. This is only about soccer.”
“It’s become a great museum with attention to the worldwide development of soccer.
Infantino distanced himself from Blatter, whose ban meant he was not able to attend the opening, in comments published by the Swiss newspaper Sonntagsblick on Sunday.
“Sepp Blatter characterized one era at FIFA. I hope that I will characterize a different era at FIFA,” fellow Swiss Infantino said.
“Infantino is Infantino. Blatter is Blatter.”
Infantino also distanced himself from former European soccer boss Michel Platini who had been favorite to succeed Blatter until he was placed under investigation and, like Blatter, banned for six years.
“I’m my own man. Otherwise you don’t win such an election. But I still have a good rapport with Platini. Basically, I get on with everyone.”
Infantino, who has four daughters, added: “The future of soccer belongs to women.”
Reporting by Joshua Franklin and Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar