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Infantino new FIFA president; reforms passed

New FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

New FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

Gianni Infantino is the new president of FIFA after his surprise election to the post on Friday in Zurich, Switzerland. The 45-year-old Italian lawyer takes over office until 2019, becoming president following the ban of incumbent Sepp Blatter, who is now banned from all soccer-related activities for six years after winning an appeal this week to reduce the ban from eight years.

Infantino beat out Bahrain’s Shk. Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, who has a history of human rights violations (which he denies).

United States Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati voted for Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein in the first round of the ballots before switching to Infantino in the second round and campaigning for the Italian, which was all part of the plan. It’s a plan which is thought to give the United States a massive boost in its bid to host the 2026 World Cup after controversially losing out on the 2022 edition to Qatar.

“I told [Infantino] personally, before we put anything out publicly, I met with him and said this is what we’re going to do,” Gulati told SI.com after Infantino had won. “He wasn’t ecstatic about it, obviously, but he also knew—and I said it to him—that we would be with him when it mattered and as long as he was in the race. He knew exactly what that meant [that the U.S. would vote for Infantino in the second round if needed].”

In perhaps even bigger news for women in soccer on Friday, a series of reforms was passed by the FIFA Executive Committee which includes “a minimum of one female representative elected as a Council member per confederation; promotion of women as an explicit statutory objective of FIFA to create a more diverse decision-making environment and culture.”

These reforms were pushed hard by Moya Dodd, vice-president of the Asian Football Confederation and a member of the FIFA Executive Committee. Always well-spoken, Dodd wrote on Thursday about the importance of more women in FIFA.

“If passed, these reforms can be a platform for fundamental change,” she wrote. “Whoever becomes FIFA president later on Friday must rise to the challenge of leadership in persuading FIFA and its members truly to embrace gender-balance reforms.”

Round-by-round results of the FIFA Presidential Election:

Ballot 1:
HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein: 27 votes
Shk. Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa: 85 votes
Jérôme Champagne: 7 votes
Gianni Infantino: 88 votes

Ballot 2:
HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein: 4 votes
Shk. Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa: 88 votes
Jérôme Champagne: 0 votes
Gianni Infantino: 115 votes

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