Gianni Infantino has been chosen as the new FIFA president. He is the new chief of the world football body after a scandal ridden reign of former boss Sepp Blatter.
The 45-year-old UEFA general secretary scored a convincing victory in the battle to replace disgraced Blatter, whose 18-year reign ended with FIFA mired in unprecedented crisis.
Infantino, a Swiss-Italian, defeated Asian rival Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa in the second round of the vote of 207 members at the FIFA Congress in Zurich.
After his election Infantino vowed to lead the scandal-tainted body into a new era.
“FIFA has gone through sad times, moments of crisis, but those times are over,” Infantino said, asserting that a “new era” had begun for world’s football’s governing body.
Blatter, who many hold responsible for the culture of patronage and graft that plagued FIFA, congratulated Infantino on his win.
“With his experience, his capacities, his sense of strategy and diplomacy, he has all the qualities to continue my work,” Blatter said in a statement.
Infantino got 115 votes in the election’s second round while Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman, from Bahrain, got 88. They were just three votes apart in the first round.
Five candidates started the day in contention.
Prince Ali bin al Hussein of Jordan and former FIFA official Jerome Champagne saw their support fizzle after the first round, while South African tycoon Tokyo Sexwale withdrew before polling opened.
Sheikh Salman said he was looking forward to working with his campaign rival, and called for “unity” while stressing that FIFA needed to be more “inclusive and reflect the diversity of world football”.
Infantino’s election was hailed by world figures such as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and other federation chiefs.
Putin, whose country will host the 2018 World Cup, said Infantino comes into the post with “high authority”.
(With inputs from agencies)