Infantino hits out at 'FIFA bashing' and 'fake news'
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[May 11, 2017]
By Simon Evans
MANAMA (Reuters) - FIFA President
Gianni Infantino took aim at critics of world football's governing
body on Thursday, saying the organization had reformed and was now a
victim of "fake news" and "FIFA bashing".
Speaking to the organization's 67th congress in the Bahraini
capital, Infantino, who replaced Sepp Blatter as head of FIFA in
2016, said it was truly transforming itself.
"We are rebuilding FIFA’s reputation after all that happened. We
took over the organization at it's deepest point," said Infantino,
adding that there was no room for anyone who wanted to enrich
themselves by "abusing football".
Several dozen football officials, mainly from Latin America, were
indicted in the United States in 2015 on corruption-related charges,
sparking the worst crisis in FIFA's history.
Infantino said criticism of the organization under his leadership
had not been fair, given improved transparency, controls and ethics
"There is a lot of fake news and alternative facts about FIFA
circulating," he said. "FIFA bashing has become a national sport in
The Swiss administrator also made some barbed comments about some of
his critics among governance experts after a week in which FIFA's
Ethics heads were replaced.
"In the past many highly-paid experts, paid millions, have been
hired by FIFA to help reform FIFA. Let me ask you, what did they do?
They simply rubber stamped a sick and corrupt system.
"Where were all these self-proclaimed gurus and experts? They all
miserably failed. I will, we will, not accept good governance
lessons from any individuals who miserably failed to protect
football," said Infantino.
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FIFA President Gianni Infantino speaks at the 67th FIFA Congress in
Manama, Bahrain May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
While suggesting FIFA's internal experts had failed
he offered praise for outside investigations, thanking "courts all
around the world" who had prosecuted corruption cases.
"We need your help and we count on your help," he added, saying
there was no place in his organization for any wrongdoing.
"If there's anyone in this room or outside of this room who still
thinks he can enrich himself, that he can abuse football, I have one
clear and strong message to tell him: Leave football and leave
football now. We don't want you."
FIFA's budget plans for 2018 and their auditor's report and
financial statements for 2016 were all voted through without any
questions being raised in the congress hall.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford/Amlan Chakraborty)
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