FIFA extended their suspension of Zimbabwe yesterday but, CRUCIALLY, didn’t close the door on the country’s return to the international football fold.
And, even as Zimbabwe serves its suspension, FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, said he will serve and protect the country’s interests in football.
In his remarks, shortly after being re-elected for another four-year term, Infantino included Zimbabwe among the countries whose interests he will safeguard.
“Being FIFA president is an incredible honour, an incredible privilege, and it is also a great responsibility,” he said, after being elected unopposed.
“I am truly humbled and touched by your support, and I promise you that I will continue serving FIFA, serving football all over the world and serving ALL 211 FIFA member associations.”
Zimbabwe is one of those 211 FIFA member associations.
It’s significant that Infantino didn’t choose his moment of triumph to send a signal that Zimbabwe was no longer a member of FIFA.
There had been wild speculation, ahead of the FIFA Congress in Kigali, Rwanda, that Zimbabwe would be expelled from the Zurich-based organisation.
Infantino will be serving his second term as FIFA president.
His new term will end in 2017.
Infantino did not face any election opponent and won by acclaim instead of a formal vote by the congress whose basic annual funding from FIFA has risen from US$250,000 to US$2m since his first win in 2016.
“To all those that love me, and I know there are so many, and those that hate me, and I know there are a few, I love you all of course, today especially,” Infantino said.