Swiss-Italian Gianni Infantino who took over from Sepp Blatter as FIFA’s top official in February is confident soccer’s world governing body has “turned a page” and will overcome the “forces that don’t want change.” as the last five years have seen the world’s governing soccer body engulfed in accusations of bribery and corruption.
FIFA made $5.7 billion in revenue in the four years leading up to the 2014 World Cup, while Infantino himself was recently implicated in the Panama Papers scandal while general secretary of European soccer’s governing body UEFA, but was cleared of wrongdoing by FIFA’s ethics committee after an inquiry into expenses, recruitment and alleged sacking of whistleblowers in the organization.
Infantino in a new interview with CNN, insists FIFA has turned a new leaf but that when trying to force change “inevitably you address some issues that people don’t want to address.”
When asked whether there were people in FIFA trying to undermine him, Infantino told CNN: “Well, definitely. Definitely there are forces that don’t want change.
“There are forces who maybe don’t want things to come out. I don’t care who they are. I go my way.”
When asked who or what those forces are, Infantino didn’t elaborate.
“We have embraced reforms,” he added. “We have embraced transparency. We have embraced good governance. And we move ahead.
“FIFA not only can but is moving on from this. I mean the past is the past. We have turned a page. We are now operating and working with a completely different set-up with different people having different functions in this organization in a transparent way, in an open way and that’s the way we will operate.”
FIFA also made headlines for the wrong reasons weeks ago when it announced it had scrapped the anti-racism task force, telling members it had “completely fulfilled its temporary mission.” a move which prompted widespread criticism as racism is still on a high in European nations, but Infantino says it was a “problem of communication” and insists “it’s not job done.”
“It’s quite the opposite,” he told CNN. “We are working every day to fight discrimination with concrete actions by rendering this organization more international. You don’t combat discrimination with a working group or a task force.
“You combat it with actions, with measures. This Task Force has issued some recommendations which are now being implemented in reality, in fact, and that’s what we are doing.”
“Russia is certainly also realizing that the spotlight of the world is focusing on the country and the World Cup will give it the possibility to show itself in a different light.
“We have to move to different areas of the world. We have to discuss these issues. We have to tackle these issues. FIFA’s not the police of the world. We are a football body. We cannot solve the problems of the world.
“What we can do is to put the spotlight and to discuss and to address and to try to tackle some of these issues. If we achieve to make them a little bit better, then it would have been worthwhile to do that.”