Sunday 26 February 2023, 22:45

President Infantino reflects on seven years at FIFA helm

  • Gianni Infantino was elected FIFA President on 26 February 2016

  • Governance and financial positions strengthened during his time in office

  • Significant strides made towards making football truly global

In celebrating his seventh anniversary at the head of world football’s governing body, FIFA President Gianni Infantino has reflected on the work that has been undertaken so that the organisation can respond to modern football’s ever-changing needs and level the playing field for all 211 member associations.

Under his leadership – set to be extended at the upcoming 73rd FIFA Congress in Kigali, Rwanda – FIFA has undergone wide-ranging reforms that have bolstered its governance, raised its revenues, and contributed more resources into football’s foundations and sustainable development.

“Thinking about this seven-year anniversary, I would simply like to thank all of those who have been helping me, and there are many, to make FIFA a better organisation, a better place,” said the FIFA President. “An organisation which cares about football, about the game, about girls and boys all over the world, about making football truly global, about uniting people from different backgrounds. And also, about providing happiness to billions of girls and boys all over the globe who are passionate [about], who love football. It is a privilege to be President of FIFA. And again, thanks to everyone for loving football and for making it what it is, which is just something magic.”

Revenues distributed to member associations for development projects have increased sevenfold in seven years -- thanks to much greater efficiency rather than a corresponding increase in revenues. This growth even resisted the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic when FIFA stood shoulder to shoulder with the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as implementing the USD 1.5 billion FIFA Covid-19 Relief Plan which made essential funding available to all FIFA member associations in their hour of need.

Competitions have significantly helped to drive development, with over five billion people worldwide following a thrilling FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. A more robust bidding and decision-making process via the FIFA Congress saw the 2026 tournament – the first to feature 48 teams – awarded to Canada, Mexico and the United States, whilst two countries from different confederations will host the largest-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup™ later this year in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. This will feature 32 teams, including eight debutants, showcasing the huge growth in women’s football in the last seven years.

A wide-ranging reform of the transfer system has made it fairer and more transparent while the game itself has become fairer thanks to the video assistant referee (VAR) system, which is an example of how technology can be used for football’s benefit. The ground-breaking Football for Schools programme helps support education around the world through football while FIFA has joined forces with various United Nations agencies to ensure that football can make a positive impact on society. FIFA has also signed memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with organisations such as the African Union (AU), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Council of Europe (CoE), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) – another sign of football’s growing standing in the world.

Gianni Infantino celebrates after being elected as the new FIFA President