Alone in the running, the current president of Fifa Gianni Infantino guaranteed to be re-elected to his post

Without rival, but not without detractors: propelled in 2016 at the head of a Fifa decimated by scandals, the Italian-Swiss Gianni Infantino seems assured of winning a new four-year term in Kigali on Thursday, for which he is already teeming with projects. Gathered in the Rwandan capital for the 73rd Congress of the world football body, the delegates of the 211 member federations will have only one limited choice: to renew by acclamation the 52-year-old leader, alone in the running as in his previous election. in 2019, or mark a symbolic disapproval.

The former confidant of Michel Platini at UEFA (2009-2016), unexpectedly elected to the presidency of Fifa after a questionable payment affair which swept away both the French triple Ballon d’Or and the former boss of the body Sepp Blatter, therefore seems certain to remain at the top of world football at least until 2027. And if the statutes of the Zurich organization now provide for three terms of four years maximum, Infantino has already prepared the land to stay until 2031, declaring in mid-December that he was “still in his first term”, since his 2016-2019 lease was incomplete.

Solid balance sheet

All the lights appear green for the smooth-skinned jurist, who willingly alternates between the six languages ​​he masters and does not shrink from any shock formula, he who claimed before the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to “feel Arab, African, gay, disabled, like a migrant worker”, because he was “discriminated against” as an Italian child and a “redhead” in the Swiss Valais.

In terms of football governance, her last mandate was marked by a vast reform of transfers, the creation of an agent license, a cap on their commissions, by the institution of maternity leave for all professional players as well as by more protective rules of disciplinary procedure for victims of sexual violence.

It can also show a solid financial balance sheet, with an 18% increase in income and 45% increase in reserves over the 2019-22 cycle compared to the previous one, which allows Fifa to further increase its subsidies to confederations and federations, either the key to its redistributive system as well as to its electoral system.

Attract small Federations

Because to make football “truly global”, while European clubs concentrate talents and wealth, that the organization distributes the same amounts to Trinidad and Tobago, Saint-Kitts-and-Nevis, Bermuda and Papua- New Guinea than in Brazil, each of these federations also having one vote in Congress.

As long as the president pleases the 35 associations of Central America, including many Caribbean islands, or the 54 African federations, he can thus afford to offend the powerful European nations: by considering a biennial World Cup before give it up last year, or by prohibiting a handful of selections from wearing an inclusive “One Love” armband during the Qatari World Cup, to proclaim their attachment to LGBT rights.

Expanded Club World Cup

The Norwegian federation promises to bring the only discordant note from Congress on Thursday, having included on the agenda a discussion on “reparation in the event of human rights violations” linked to FIFA competitions, while the organization has refused for months to compensate the families of workers who died or were injured on the construction sites of the Qatari tournament. But the Europeans could not agree to propose a common candidacy and the flagship project of Infantino’s next mandate, i.e. the passage of the Men’s World Cup from 32 to 48 teams from the 2026 edition shared between States. States, Canada and Mexico, has already been approved.

More delicately, FIFA decided on December 16 to expand its Club World Cup from an annual seven-team format to a four-year competition with 32 teams from the summer of 2025. A project that its boss has been trying to bring to fruition since years to entice broadcasters and compete in the lucrative UEFA Champions League. But this initiative could well awaken the fractures of football: the same day, the World League Forum, bringing together around forty championships, denounced the “unilateral decisions” of Fifa while the calendar is “already overloaded”, threatening the health of players, the balance between clubs and the economy of national competitions.

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