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Gianni Infantino in top gear for FIFA presidency slot

Gianni Infantino in top gear for FIFA presidency slot

Elections

As the clock ticks towards Friday’s big elections for world football governing body FIFA, the race for the top post is heating up.

By Friday, European soccer’s top administrator Gianni Infantino would know if he would be the next FIFA president.

A position once eyed by the banned Michel Platini who heads UEFA, the 45-year-old Infantino is in a close tussle with Sheikh Salman of the Asia region for the top job in a five-man race that has taken over the major headlines across the world.

Infantino’s challenge on Friday is to convince FIFA’s 209 members that he is an adequate substitute for the European bloc – a pitch that could fall flat given the sequence of events over the last few years.

The Swiss has spent 16 years at UEFA. Infantino is recognized among soccer fans as the face of the very famous Champions League draws.

As General Secretary since 2009, Infantino has been in charge of implementing Platini’s policies.

Infantino’s manifesto was targeted not at elite soccer nations but smaller or emerging federations.

The flagship policy was adopted from Platini: Providing an additional eight teams at the World Cup, pushing for a 40-nation competition by 2026.

Infantino wants to prevent the tournament from being the sole preserve of wealthy countries by allowing entire regions to share hosting duties. That, and a larger goodwill machinery could work for him.

With assured support coming in from Europe and South America plus the majority of support from CONCACAF (North and Central America), he may as well walk away with the post.

But FIFA’s votes are hard to come by; they are won through behind-the-scenes lobbying rather than mere public pronouncements.