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06 Feb 2019

Infantino to be re-elected unopposed for second Fifa term

Gianni Infantino will be free to push ahead with his plans to revamp world soccer after Fifa announced today that he is the sole candidate for June's presidential election.

The 48-year-old Swiss official was first elected, after a hard-fought campaign, to succeed Sepp Blatter in 2016, and will now serve a second-term, with his coronation set for Paris on 5 June.

Ramon Vega, a former Swiss international player turned financier, had hoped to stand against Infantino, but missed Tuesday's midnight deadline to get the backing of five member associations.

Even if he had proceeded to the vote in Paris, Vega's chances of winning would have been minimal considering Infantino was thought to have the written backing of 179 of Fifa's 211 members.

During his short tenure, Infantino has successfully pressed to enlarge the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams beginning with the 2026 edition in USA-Canada-Mexico, albeit he has not ruled out bringing the expansion forward to 2022 in Qatar, which could force the tiny Gulf state into sharing the tournament with its neighbours.

Then, just last April, it emerged that the Fifa president had presented plans for a revamped Club World Cup and global Nations League competition, with $25 billion of outside investment.

Fifa has not previously sold off control of its competitions to third parties, but is eager to create a major revenue stream aside from the quadrennial World Cup given that the existing Club World Cup and Confederations Cup are not regarded as money-spinning events.

A Fifa taskforce has since been appointed to explore the options for a Club World Cup larger than the present seven-team edition, and a global Nations League, and is set to report back at a Council meeting next month.