“Show Infantino the red card” were the words of the New FIFA Now trio of Damian Collins MP, Skins Chairman Jamie Fuller and former Head of Corporate and Public Affairs with the Football Federation Australia, Bonita Mersiades.
In a press conference held at Parliament this week – which The PR Office attended – 100 days into new FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s stewardship, the conclusion was ultimately that nothing has changed.
“We already know that FIFA has failed football over the past decades. On the basis of Gianni Infantino’s first 100 days, we believe he is heading the same way,” Collins said to the sports journalists in attendance.
As part of The PR Office’s ongoing consultancy for His Royal Highness Prince Ali, we attended the press conference to determine the goals and views of the New FIFA Now group. Prince Ali was in fact mentioned, as someone who understood what was needed to truly reform FIFA, as the three group members overtly criticised Infantino’s leadership and called for change.
In a very public and controversial campaign, Infantino replaced Sepp Blatter under the cloud of one of the most high profile scandals in history. While Infantino has promised a fresh start, it is clear there are many out there who see no progression. Since he took charge there have still been a number of significant issues. Swiss businessman Domenico Scala quit as head of audit and compliance last month after the FIFA Council was given power to appoint or dismiss members of independent bodies, such as the ethics committee. Further to this, Infantino’s proposed pay also made headlines, with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reporting leaked details of FIFA Council meetings that it said showed he had been angered by an offer of 2 million Swiss francs ($2.07 million) a year.
Although Bonita Mersiades said the appointment of FIFA’s first female secretary general, Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura of Senegal, was to be commended, she questioned and criticised the process of appointing someone with no prior experience – particularly in the commercial sector, where FIFA needs the most direction.
Mersiades also highlighted campaign promises of more money to confederations and a 40-team World Cup which she said were “aimed at keeping the ‘family’ happy”. A sad mirroring of Blatter’s FIFA, described as the world’s biggest organised crime family.
Unfortunately, Jamie Fuller concluded it best: “In other words, it’s business as usual” – which is not what FIFA, fans, players, coaches or society needs.