Some say it’s a case of new president, same old FIFA, but Gianni Infantino is confident soccer’s world governing body has “turned a page” and will overcome the “forces that don’t want change.”
The Swiss-Italian took over from Sepp Blatter as FIFA’s top official in February with the organization engulfed in accusations of bribery and corruption.
He hasn’t had the easiest of introductions since taking charge of an organization that made $5.7 billion in revenue in the four years leading up to the 2014 World Cup.
Infantino himself was recently implicated in the Panama Papers scandal while general secretary of European soccer’s governing body UEFA, but insists he has done nothing wrong and says when trying to force change “inevitably you address some issues that people don’t want to address.”
He was also cleared of wrongdoing by FIFA’s ethics committee after an inquiry into expenses, recruitment and alleged sacking of whistleblowers.
Asked whether such stories were evidence of people trying to undermine him, Infantino told CNN: “Well, definitely. Definitely there are forces that don’t want change.
“There are forces who maybe don’t want things to come out. I don’t care who they are. I go my way.”
When asked who or what those forces are, Infantino didn’t elaborate.
“We have embraced reforms,” he added. “We have embraced transparency. We have embraced good governance. And we move ahead.
“FIFA not only can but is moving on from this. I mean the past is the past. We have turned a page. We are now operating and working with a completely different set-up with different people having different functions in this organization in a transparent way, in an open way and that’s the way we will operate.”
Infantino said changing FIFA’s name and even its base in Switzerland had been discussed in a bid to promote a new image, but ultimately the ideas were ruled out given the body’s “history” and “strong name in the world.”
FIFA has, though, made one change in no longer using Zurich’s luxurious Baur Au Lac hotel for visiting executive members to disassociate it with the old regime.