Infantino gets new term at FIFA, pledges to improve revenues

Thursday March 16 2023
Kigali Pele Stadium Rwanda

Rwandan President Paul Kagame (left) with FIFA President Gianni Infantino during the unveiling of the Kigali Pele Stadium on March 15, 2023. PHOTO | COURTESY | VILLAGE URUGWIRO

By Ange Iliza

Gianni Infantino has been re-elected for a third term as the president of the world football governing body FIFA until 2027. He was re-elected Thursday at the organisation's 73rd congress in Kigali, Rwanda. 

He promised to improve FIFA revenues and decentralise football to remote areas in the next four-year cycle.

The 52-year-old lawyer, who was unopposed, was elected by acclamation instead of a formal vote.

He will now be at the helm of the world football body until after the end of the 2026 FIFA World Cup which will be co-hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico.

“It is an incredible honour and privilege and a great responsibility," Infantino said after re-election. 

"I promise to continue serving FIFA and football around the world. To those that love me, and I know there are many, and those who hate me, I love you all,” added Infantino.


Qatar World Cup

He came under criticism after strongly defending Qatar's hosting of last year's World Cup as the Gulf state was on the spotlight for its treatment of migrant workers, women and the LGBTQ community.

Infantino was first elected to lead FIFA in 2016, succeeding the disgraced Sepp Blatter who has been banned from participating in FIFA activities until 2027 as a result of the FIFA corruption case made public in 2015.

The Thursday electoral congress was held in a lavishly decorated Kigali Arena, adorned with flags of all the 211 FIFA member states and Rwanda’s iconic “imaging” patterns. It was the final event of a four-day gathering that brought together 2,000 delegates from different parts of the world. 

This was the first electoral congress to take place in Africa, and Rwanda reportedly invested $5 million to organise it. The next FIFA Congress will be held on May 17, 2024. 

FIFA Congress held in Kigali, Rwanda

Participants at the FIFA Congress held in Kigali, Rwanda on March 16, 2023. PHOTO | COURTESY | VILLAGE URUGWIRO

Promote women's football

The Kigali Congress took place just months before the FIFA Women’s World Cup in July and September in New Zealand and Australia.

Infantino vowed to promote women's football by delivering the best championships and equally paying female football players.

He also promised to double FIFA’s revenue and funding. Federations basic annual funding from FIFA has risen from $250,000 to $2 million since Infantino’s takeover in 2016.

On Tuesday, FIFA expanded its school’s programme in Rwanda with a $50,000 investment. The football for schools kitty will target over 4,000 learning institutions in the country in the next four years. The programme has benefited 200 million children across the world. 

A day before the Congress on Wednesday, Infantino and Rwandan President Paul Kagame unveiled the second stadium in the world to be named after the late Brazilian football legend Pele.

The Kigali Pele Stadium, previously Nyamirambo stadium, was renovated with FIFA’s $350,000 funding. 

The other stadium named after Pele is in Cape Verde.