- Sepp Blatter's reign saw Africa and Asia host the World Cup in 2010 and 2002 respectively
- He introduced the FIFA goal project
- Sheikh Salman was assured of Africa's support during voting
- In the second round of voting, Infantino won over Sheikh Salman
- His promise of pumping more money seem to have worked for him
Could it be a case ‘Birds of the same feathers, flock together’ or just a simple matter of ‘a chip of the old block’?
The Swiss Sepp Blatter has treated Africa and Asian football with some kids’ gloves and for that matter has some real friends among them.
Under Blatter's presidency, Africa hosted her first World Cup (South Africa, 2010) as did Asia (Japan and Korea, 2002). These were tournaments which has greatly boosted the image of the continents which hitherto had been deemed ‘unsuitable place’ for football.
The Swiss’ reign also saw entry for World Cup places increased from two to five for Africa and four for Asia, a decision which did not go down well with Europe.
UEFA fought him and were even seen as scheming to send the game back to the era where the European governing body, controlled the game.
Blatter’s decision was even ruled at a FIFA's ethics committee who found him guilty of 'abusive execution' of his position.
There was also the ‘FIFA Goal Projects’ where the federations’ specific projects are funded by money ($250,000 annually) from FIFA all in the name of bringing the under developed continents to a closer level as the developed ones.
Sheikh Salman al-Khalifa as an ally of Blatter and for that matter, ‘a chip’ of the Swiss has always enjoyed the support and backing of Africa for their votes during the elections to succeed his mentor.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president therefore wooed Africa (CAF) and the Asia (AFC) to sign a Memorandum of Understanding over which Sheikh Salman presided.
This development earned him the strong critic of Jordan’s Prince Ali who complained about the agreement and its timing to Fifa.
FIFA said it found nothing wrong with the deal.
The continent’s 54 membership out of the 209 of FIFA’s member associations represent the largest voting block.
The two federations, AFC and CAF have 100 votes of the 209 at FIFA.
Europe has 53 votes, Africa 54, Asia 46, South America 10, North and Central America 35 and Oceania 11.
Therefore, for one to have the overwhelming support en block of Africa, really will be intimidating for the opponent but reassuring for you, the beneficiary.
"I am deeply honored to have earned the trust of many of our African friends at this crucial stage of the campaigning effort," Sheikh Salman said in a statement.
His endorsement from CAF followed a similar statement of support for Salman from the Asian Football Confederation.
"Naturally, I am confident that I now have a reasonably strong position to work from with such support," he said.
Both Salman and Gianni Infantino were expected to get good support from their home continents, Asia and Europe, respectively.
They did get it, and it took them into a second round voting which necessitated some last minute vote canvassing.
Africa, the kingmakers immediately came into perspective at Zurich on Friday, 26th February.
Infantino’s campaign team led by former Cameroonian international Jeremy Njitap reportedly triggered their monetary project campaign knowing that Africa really needed the money more than anybody else.
During a campaign tour of Africa recently, they promised US$5 million annually in football development funding.
What a world! It worked on Friday. Infantino trounced Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa 115-88 during the second round of voting to become the new FIFA president.
“You don’t go for a losing candidate” said Walter Nyamilandu, Malawi’s FA president who attended the elective Fifa assembly.
Infantino’s promised money will come from Fifa’s coffers but to CAF, for now, it does not matter where it will come from. Each member association will be richer by $ 1,250,000 (one million, two hundred and fifty thousand) additionally and that meant business. Gianni Infantino won!
It’s no secret, “Infantino promised every member association here yesterday that he would ensure they get $5 million each from Fifa in development aid, something that appeared to swing the vote in his favour,” reported www.herald.co.zw
African teams stand better chance of making the World Cup as Infantino was one of several candidates pledging to increase the size of the World Cup, and travel to FIFA's members but I can tell you the more money alibi won him the hearts of CAF.