'Infantino bought FIFA votes'
Milan, March 1
Outspoken Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini has courted controversy by claiming Gianni Infantino “bought” votes on his way to being elected president of FIFA.
Infantino was voted world football’s new chief on Friday, the 45-year-old Swiss-Italian lawyer ending Sepp Blatter’s controversial 18 years in charge. Although Infantino has pledged to restore the battered image of FIFA, and despite his victory being widely applauded by key figures in the game, Zamparini cast doubt on whether the election process was fully transparent.
He claims doubts remain over the rise to power of the second-in-command at European football’s ruling body UEFA. “The system doesn’t change and the new president of FIFA, the chief of bureaucrats, was part of it all before,” Zamparini is quoted as saying in a video clip on www.mediagol.it. “If he got elected, it’s only because he bought more votes than the (Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa).”
Blatter’s chequered history as chief of world football saw FIFA become embroiled in several cases of vote-buying corruption. Infantino won last week’s election in the second round with 115 votes, from Asian football chief Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, who received 88 votes. Zamparini has built a reputation for speaking his mind since taking over the Sicily-based Serie A club in 2002, as well as firing coaches who fail to bring immediate success to the club. He admitted his comments were likely to court controversy, but said he welcomed any future sanction. “I hope they suspend me for saying that: for me it would be an honour.”