FIFA President Gianni Infantino has warned world football leaders that the governing body would “have no mercy” on anyone misusing ramped-up development grants.
Infantino was addressing his first congress as president following his election in February in succession to Sepp Blatter.
One of his manifesto pledges which swung the ballot his way was for extra development funds for the 200-plus national associations and the way a massive increase would be organised, distributed and audited was a centre-piece of what was almost a one-man show in the Centro Banamex in Mexico City.
Finance director Markus Kattner followed up a reasurring report that FIFA’s accounts were “solid” by confirming an increase in the development budget from $900m to $1.417m. Sums available for individual federations would rise from $400,000-a-year to $1.25m-a-year within a tightly-audited, redesigned structure.
Infantino said: “We have six development programmes and 10 budgetary regulations. It’s a mess and it has to be streamlined.” But he warned delegates: “Don’t betray us. Don’t misuse the money or we will have no mercy.”
One of the worst features of the Blatter regime had been the way in which development funds were misused, not only in financial terms but also as a political weapons.
Infantino also reported on the process for choosing the host of the 2026 World Cup because, as he said, “it is crucial we have a bullet-proof process in place . . . we have to get it right.”