Infantino “to withdraw” from FIFA election if Platini stands
UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino vowed on Tuesday to withdraw from FIFA’s presidential election if Michel Platini, the UEFA president who is serving a 90-day ban from all football-related activities, is allowed to stand.
“Platini is my president and I’ve worked with him for nine years. It’s clear that I have his support, otherwise I would not be running,” Infantino told Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport.
“And there is another thing that must be clarified,” he added.
“My candidacy is not in opposition to Michel. If he is able to stand, I will withdraw. It’s a simple principle of loyalty. But right now I am a candidate 100 per cent and I’m moving forward, not only for Europe but for world football.”
Speaking of his plans to run for world football’s lead role, Infantino acknowledged he shared “lots of points in common” with Platini in relation to “development and reforms” but that he also had his own ideas.
“I am Infantino and Platini is Platini. It’s my programme. The priorities are the same but there will be some differences.”
Yet Infantino said that in principle he, as a candidate, was focused on several key reforms, one of which is the “indispensible” reform of world governing body FIFA.
“The reform of FIFA. It’s indispensible. We need financial transparency, so that we know what money is coming in and which is going out,” he said.
“Also, the separation of powers. The Executive will soon become known as the Council and will become a political body, separate from the administration. We also have to put limits on mandates and the age at which they can he held.
“Secondly, decisions have to become democratic. There are 209 national federations, big and small, and each one should have a say, not just every four years to elect the president.
“And we need made-to-measure plans in terms of investing in development. In recent years we’ve spoken very little about football.
“FIFA has huge revenues from the World Cup and should be investing them, taking into account the different needs. Germany, for example, has different needs compared to Burundi.”
The African vote is expected to be crucial for whoever is standing for the FIFA presidency and Infantino said the world’s governing body could do more to help the continent.
“FIFA can do a lot for Africa, helping them by investing in basic necessities,” he said.
“Sometimes they even struggle to organise games because the travel costs are too expensive: that shouldn’t be happening.”
Seven candidates are in the running to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA president for the February 26 election next year.
The other five candidates are Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, Musa Bility, Jerome Champagne, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and Tokyo Sexwale.
Asian football head Sheikh Salman is expected to step aside should Platini emerge unscathed from the investigation.
But until then Infantino said he will continue to act as though he was a candidate: “Maybe it’s premature to be having that discussion. All I can say is relations with Asia and South America are good.
“But before talking politics, I have to talk about football. I have to convince the others my arguments are solid and make them understand the Europeans are not just rich and arrogant.
“To do this, I will soon travel around the world: to talk with the federations, try to understand their problems and to garner their support.”