Gianni Infantino put his right hand on his heart. The FIFA President was touched and enjoyed the applause that lifted him to the top of the world football association in the packed election arena, even without German support.
"All who love me, I know there are many, and all who hate me, I know there are a few - I love you all," said the re-elected president at Kigali's BK Arena after the acclamation vote . The rejection by the German Football Association and a few other nations had no effect.
FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura replied pathetically to the Swiss, who was already back in his seat: "We love you, President." The congress in Rwanda was the expected Infantino show - again with statements that raised questions. Infantino reported that a moving visit to the genocide memorial in the East African country that was hit hard in the 1990s inspired him in 2016 not to give up his presidential campaign despite the lack of support.
The re-election is now an "incredible honor," said Infantino, who indirectly indicated a lifelong work and at noon launched a broad media criticism. "It's a bit tiring," he said during the press conference on the negative coverage of FIFA and himself. "We don't steal, we don't profit. FIFA is about football, not money."
He doesn't understand the "attacks" on a "rich FIFA". "You don't have to love me, you don't have to love me, you can criticize me - there are opinion articles for that - but please, please stick to the facts," Infantino told journalists from all over the world.
No support from the DFB
DFB President Bernd Neuendorf and his colleagues from the critical European nations must have followed the congress with skepticism. FIFA must "become much more open and transparent in dealing with the national associations," Neuendorf had already demanded on Wednesday and Infantino, like the Swedes and Norwegians, refused direct DFB support in the election - knowing that the association with the largest number of members was doing so well like standing alone.
For a good half hour, Infantino celebrated himself and FIFA shortly before the election for their merits over the past few years. For the 208 of the 211 associations present, money was the most exciting issue. The world association will earn more than eleven billion US dollars by 2026, with the new Club World Cup it could be “a few billion” more, Infantino announced. "FIFA's money is your money," added the 52-year-old. "Every dollar invested is checked by independent auditors."
Align World Cup success bonuses for women and men
Infantino used his closing speech for the remarkable announcement that the World Cup success bonuses in women's football should be aligned with those in men's football by 2027. That is the "most difficult" step on the way to so-called "equal pay", i.e. the same pay for women and men in professional football. "The rights holders and sponsors have to do more," Infantino demanded, referring to the sometimes massively lower offers from these partners for women's football. For the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, the premiums will increase to 110 million US dollars.
Since his first almost three and a half years as FIFA President are not counted, Infantino can be re-elected for another four-year term in the Women's World Cup in 2027, which will then be the last statutory term. "If an entrepreneur announced that dividends would be increased sevenfold, you would keep him forever, then it would not just be a four-year mandate," Infantino said. He took over FIFA from the suspended Joseph Blatter (87) in early 2016 - both were born in the tranquil Swiss town of Valais.
"Your support touches me very much and makes me humble," said the Swiss in the direction of the delegates, to whom he had given advice before the vote: "I just ask you to remember that football is joy, happiness , passion, love and peace, and that football is there to unite our beautiful world."
FIFA announces analysis of World Cup in Qatar
The past World Cup in Qatar at the end of 2022 was accompanied by some appalling human rights violations, FIFA announced an analysis. Nevertheless, Infantino spoke again of the "best World Cup of all time", which will be replaced in 2026 in the USA, Canada and Mexico by the next "greatest World Cup of all time". The fact that 48 national associations are taking part for the first time is one of Infantino's long-term election promises.
"We are not the Red Cross or Greenpeace," said Infantino, praising the two organizations. "But we also have a responsibility to help with global challenges." The FIFA President did not go into the affairs and inconsistencies of his creative period, which were also criticized in Germany. In Switzerland, two special public prosecutors are investigating an opaque judicial affair against Infantino, who rejects all allegations.
On the contrary, the FIFA President referred to his recent invitation to the G20 summit. "We're proud of it," said Infantino. "These people wouldn't sit down with a FIFA they don't trust." Institutions, and "not just sponsors and television stations" have gained confidence in FIFA.