It was a surprising victory, as many experts predicted Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa of the Bahrain Royal Family would win the election which featured five candidates.
Infantino gave a rousing and charismatic speech, however, and also promised to continue giving out equal payments to every nation, regardless of size, a practice first implemented under former FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
Infantino won election during the second round of voting after the first round yielded no candidate with the required 138 votes, a two-thirds majority of the 207 countries eligible to cast a ballot. After that round, Infantino had 88 votes and Sheikh Salman had 85. The two other candidates to receive votes – Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan and Jerome Champagne of France – finished with 27 and seven votes, respectively.
Infantino holds both Swiss and Italian citizenship and has been the general secretary of UEFA, the governing body of European soccer, since 2009. He worked with UEFA to expand the European Championship from 16 to 24 teams, and he has vowed to expand the World Cup field to 40 teams. An attorney, Infantino has also served as a member of FIFA’s Reform Committee.
The election hardly marks a change from the old way of doing business in FIFA. All five candidates had worked extensively in and with the organization, and one of the candidates, Prince Ali, said that these campaigns have all been conducted by the rules of “old FIFA.”