UEFA’s acting boss Gianni Infantino was set to face the media on Friday after a meeting of Europe’s top football brass, as he gears up his campaign to become FIFA’s president.
The European football association’s executive committee, meeting at its Nyon, Switzerland headquarters, was also expected to rule on the closely-watched question of introducing goal-line technology for the Euro 2016 tournament.
The battle to replace disgraced FIFA president Sepp Blatter as the most powerful man in football has intensified, with Infantino also stepping up his campaign.
In recent days, the Swiss national has backed proposals to expand the World Cup to 40 teams, pledged more money for FIFA member-nations, and vowed “credible” reforms at world football’s scandal-tainted governing body.
The German FA endorsed Infantino’s candidacy this week, saying he was the right man to lead FIFA out of a crisis that has seen much of its senior leadership indicted or sanctioned over corruption charges.
Infantino, UEFA’s secretary general, only joined the race after his boss, Michel Platini, was suspended by FIFA in October over an ethics violation.
Platini, UEFA’s president and once the favourite to win the FIFA vote, withdrew his candidacy on January 7 after he and Blatter were banned from football for eight years over ethics violations.
– Goal-line technology -Momentum has been building in support of introducing goal-line technology (GLT) at the Euro 2016 championship hosted by France.
UEFA’s chief referee Pierluigi Collina came out in support of the idea on Tuesday, saying the tournament “was a good opportunity” to introduce GLT.
The technology is already used in the English Premier League, Italy’s Serie A, the German Bundesliga and Ligue 1 in France. FIFA also brought it in for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after a series of successful trials.
Collina said that UEFA’s referees committee had concluded its review of GLT and that he believed the technology would allow officials to better focus on monitoring overall activity in the penalty area.
After UEFA held “positive” discussions on GLT last month, many believe its use at this summer’s continental championship is all but guaranteed.
– FIFA vote -The unprecedented crisis engulfing FIFA has placed outsized importance on the body’s February 26 presidential vote.
Powerful voices across the globe, including the World Cup’s top corporate sponsors like Visa and Coca-Cola, have demanded new leadership capable of restoring integrity to the management of the world’s most popular sport.
FIFA presidential contender Prince Ali bin al Hussein of Jordan has however already sounded an alarm over impropriety in the campaign.
He said a development deal agreed between the Asian and African confederations looked like a scheme to secure Africa’s backing for Asian football chief and FIFA presidential candidate Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa of Bahrain.
Infantino, 45, has not weighed in on fears of electoral malpractice, but he has released a manifesto detailing measures to clean up the global game.
They include a new FIFA Council for key decisions, 12-year term limits for officials including the president, and more “independent voices” on key FIFA committees.
Infantino has also voiced support for declaring the remuneration of top FIFA members, naming a chief compliance officer and establishing a fully open tendering process for the body’s multi-billion dollar deals.