Friday 01 April 2022, 09:00

FIFA President calls for leadership, peace and development in Congress address

  • Gianni Infantino addressed delegates at the 72nd FIFA Congress in Doha

  • Key themes included global conflicts, FIFA’s ability to unite through the power of football and human rights

  • Mr Infantino stated his intention to stand for re-election in 2023

Football’s power to heal divisions and bring the world together were acclaimed by FIFA President Gianni Infantino in his speech to the 72nd FIFA Congress in Doha, looking ahead to building bridges between cultures and foundations for football’s future in FIFA World Cup™ year and detailing the financial means for achieving that thanks to FIFA’s strengthened governance. Mr Infantino also stated his intention to stand for re-election in 2023 to continue the work that has yielded a seven-fold increase in solidarity distribution payments to member associations since he first took office in 2016.

“We want to be about inclusivity, about democracy and giving a voice to those who are never heard; to the silent majority,” the FIFA President told delegates assembled in person and virtually from all bar one of FIFA’s 211 member associations. “We want to work together with you [and] we want to continue developing football. FIFA is an open, transparent and democratic organisation and we are always there to work together.” As well as the Future of Football project and its sustainable, global development, Mr Infantino called upon those in important political positions in the world to establish peace through dialogue and to end conflicts and wars, whilst pledging FIFA’s support in overcoming cultural barriers. “We live in an aggressive world, in a divided world, but I am a big believer in the power of football to bring people together and to cross cultural boundaries,” President Infantino said. “Nelson Mandela said that sport has the power to change the world. Football is the world sport. We are not naïve to believe football can solve the world’s problems. Once this terrible conflict is over and all other conflicts around the world as well, hopefully very soon, football can play a small part in rebuilding relationships, in establishing peace and understanding – and we will be there at the forefront of doing that.”

“My plea to all of those who have some power in this world, to all of those who are in important political positions in the world, please, please stop conflicts and wars,” the FIFA President continued. “Please, for our children, for our future. Please engage in dialogue, even with your worst enemy. Please try to come together. And football will be there and will help in working together for peace.” FIFA’s contribution to football’s global growth was reflected at Congress through the financial statements and reports, confirming an increased capacity to deliver the organisation’s statutory obligation to enhance the sport’s development. “I’m proud of the work that FIFA, and all of you are doing to develop football,” continued the FIFA President. “Our finances are great and, of course, when you want to develop, you need to have resources. Not only in a period of COVID-19 did FIFA not suffer any losses, not only has FIFA already reached the target of revenues at 6.4 billion USD for 2022, which means we’ll reach around 7 billion (USD), 600 million (USD) more than was projected.

“Not only that but we are able to invest in football. And we are able to do that because the governance of FIFA today is right. This has been recognised recently by the Department of Justice of the United States of America. They seized USD 201 million from corrupt FIFA officials and now they gave this 201 million back to the FIFA Foundation to be reinvested in football, together with Concacaf and CONMEBOL, because they trust in the new FIFA. And the new FIFA FORWARD programme – FORWARD 3.0 – will again see an increase of 25%. Now, a 25% increase means that each member association will now receive around 8m USD in a four-year period compared to 2016, when I arrived as FIFA President.” Mr Infantino also referenced the forthcoming phase of discussion to find agreements and compromises between all stakeholders on the wider Future of Football project, not only thanking all parties for their input during the process so far regarding the international match calendar but also referencing collaboration to respect and defend football’s institutional structure and use it to optimise all aspects of the sport and its social reach.