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November 18, 2022

Infantino to serve third term as FIFA president; Warner loses extradition appeal

The FIFA head will be re-elected for another four years after standing unopposed.

By Tariq Saleh

Gianni Infantino will stand unopposed and be re-elected as president of FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, for a third term next year.

The 52-year-old will be the sole candidate in the running at the election on March 16 at the 73rd FIFA Congress in Kigali, Rwanda, and will continue to lead the organization for another four years.

FIFA confirmed the news after the deadline for candidacies ended this week, with its member associations only proposing Infantino as a candidate.

The new term will see Infantino serve as president for a third World Cup in 2026, the first to be jointly hosted by three countries – the US, Canada, and Mexico.

The Swiss-Italian official succeeded the long-serving Sepp Blatter in February 2016, after his predecessor was banned from soccer following a corruption scandal.

He then won a second term when he stood unopposed for re-election at the congress in Paris in 2019.

Infantino said: “I would like simply to put on record my big thanks for the over 200 member associations of FIFA and all the six confederations who have supported me. I feel humbled and honored to be able to serve the global football community for the next four years.”

The FIFA president was speaking just days before the start of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar – the first in the Middle East – which will get underway on Sunday (November 20) when the hosts take on Ecuador in the opening game.

The tournament will run until December 18.

Meanwhile, a London court has ruled that Jack Warner, the controversial former senior official at FIFA and Concacaf, the governing body for soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean, can be extradited from his homeland in Trinidad and Tobago to the United States to face corruption charges.

The ruling was made by London's Privy Council, the highest court of appeal for many Commonwealth countries, on Thursday (November 17).

Warner's lawyers argued that his extradition was unlawful but his appeal was unanimously dismissed.

The 79-year-old is being investigated for alleged bribes involving FIFA's executive committee in relation to the 2010 votes to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively.

In 2020, a US Department of Justice (DOJ) indictment said bribes were paid to officials to secure their votes for hosting rights.

The DOJ alleged that Warner, then the FIFA vice president, was paid $5 million to vote for Russia to stage the 2018 World Cup.

As president of Concacaf, which governs multiple regions, Warner was seen to have held significant influence in regard to votes.

He was one of a long list of individuals and entities implicated in the 'FIFAgate' scandal of 2015, which centered on bribes and kickbacks alleged to have been paid to officials with links to FIFA.

Warner was charged with wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering by the US and was banned from all soccer-related activity by FIFA in 2015.

In 2019, the former soccer official was ordered by a court in New York to pay $79 million in damages in a lawsuit filed by Concacaf.

Image: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

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