The man who had the open support of the Canadian Soccer Association is now the new president of FIFA.
Switzerland’s Gianni Infantino won the presidency Friday after he got 115 of 207 votes on the second ballot. After the first ballot, Infantino had 88 votes while Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim el-Khalifa earned 85. But, on the second ballot, Infantino picked up 27 votes, while Salman increased his vote count by only three.
On Thursday, the Canadian Soccer Association issued a statement that its Board of Directors had been unanimous in throwing this country’s support behind Infantino, a supporter of reform measures and a backer of increasing the World Cup finals from 32 teams to 40.
Now, it’s early to read too much into this, but backing the eventual winner right from the beginning can’t hurt Canada’s bid to host the 2026 World Cup. The United States supported Jordan’s Prince Ali (the same candidate that Canada supported last year in an election that Sepp Blatter win) from the first ballot, then looked to move to Infantino on the second ballot.
Infantino said “we will restore the image of FIFA and the respect of FIFA” in the wake of an awful year in which American and Swiss investigators arrested several key officials on corruption and bribery charges, and Blatter and former UEFA president Michel Platini received bans for illicit practices.
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