From the BZ editorial team
When Gianni Infantino (52) was elected Fifa President, he promised to clean up the corrupt world association. But after six years of sole rule it is clear: Infantino is a lot more dangerous than his predecessor Sepp Blatter (86). A reckoning with the godfather of world football.
► Infantino the hypocrite. “Everyone is welcome at this World Cup,” whispered the Swiss the day before kick-off in an unusually forgiving moment of his one-hour angry speech, meaning: homosexuals too.
He had the symbol of this cosmopolitanism, already dressed up as a one-love wishy-washy gesture by seven European associations, banned without further ado. In the style of a mafia godfather, in the back room, with murmurs of punishment instead of exact definition. He could just as well have put a horse’s head in bed as a threat to DFB boss Bernd Neuendorf (61).
Hardened at the last second, after the plan had been known for two months, just to give the Europeans no more time to react. Or has Fifa just now read Article 13.8.1 of the Equipment Rules?
► Infantino the traitor. After his election in February 2016, he presented himself as a man of the people. Invited to Zurich, played with journalists, wanted to show: We are a family. It was noticeable even back then that it was not coach Capello who switched him on, but he himself. Since then, Infantino, the ex-Uefa general secretary, has consistently turned his back on Europe.
All 211 votes in the Fifa family count equally, but those from financially dependent mini-states in Africa, Asia or the Gulf are much easier to get.
► Infantino, the trickster? In his homeland he faces legal trouble. The reason is dubious flights: one in 2016 in a Russian private plane with his wife and mother to Rome. One in 2017 by private jet from Suriname, which cost Fifa 200,000 euros. Alleged reason: a meeting with Uefa boss Ceferin. But he was in Armenia at the time.
And a trip to New York in 2015, ostensibly for a meeting. But, as the “SZ” revealed, that had taken place a day earlier. Infantino was connected via video. During the investigation, the Swiss federal prosecutor Michael Lauber, who – despite ongoing proceedings – secretly met Infantino three times, fell.
► Infantino, the villain of world soccer! He squeezes the football until it’s flat. Just like with the World Cup increase to 48 teams (from 2026). He wanted to introduce the World Cup every two years and sell a number of FIFA rights to the Saudis in 2018. Luckily, those plans failed.
But Infantino, the godfather of world football, is guaranteed to be plotting new football crimes again…