Gianni Infantino reconfigures FIFA to expand his power

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Gianni Infantino (right), FIFA President, May 15, 2024, in Bangkok. HANDOUT / AFP

“We will restore the image of FIFA. » On February 26, 2016, Gianni Infantino was elected president of the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), then undermined by a string of corruption scandals. Taking the posture of a white knight, the former general secretary of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) then boasted of having contributed, as a member of the FIFA reform committee, to putting in place and pass a battery of measures (term limits for the president, separation between the representative and the operational, sector devolved to the secretary general), supposed to restore the image of the institution.

Eight years later, Mr. Infantino and his council (FIFA government, made up of representatives of the continental confederations) will submit, Friday, May 17, to the vote of 74e congress of the body, in Bangkok, a series of amendments to the FIFA statutes.

Among these adjustments are several key proposals that could set in stone Mr. Infantino’s particularly dirigiste mode of governance. Who held the controls of FIFA with an iron fist, to the detriment of its former Senegalese secretary general Fatma Samoura, who resigned at the end of 2023 after having long been reduced to an extra role.

Triple Tower Locked Empire

Thus, under these amendments, the Secretary General will no longer be the “ Director General of FIFA » but is “responsible for the organization, management and administration of the general secretariat”.

FIFA’s number two will no longer be accountable only to the council, but also to the president. The activities of the general secretary, responsible for implementing the policy, “strategic direction”, and placed under the authority of Mr. Infantino and the Council, will thus be “supervised” by the president and his government.

These amendments also recognize the competence of the Secretary General to “propose candidates for the functions of president, vice-president and member of the standing committees”.

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FIFA assures World that, “ in accordance with the best international standards in terms of good governance, the statutes confirm and formalize the responsibilities of the secretary general” and are not contrary to the 2016 reforms. “There will be no impact on the clear separation of powers within FIFA”insists the authority.

The appointment to the post of general secretary, at the end of 2023, of the Swedish-Dutch Mattias Grafström, whose mother worked for a long time at UEFA, nevertheless confirms Mr. Infantino’s desire to lock down his empire in three ways.

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