Gianni Infantino struck an upbeat tone ahead of his first Congress in charge of FIFA, at which football’s governing body will try to move on from a major corruption scandal and address other problems dogging the sport around the world.
Infantino was elected as FIFA president in February, charged with steering football out of the crisis in which dozens of officials from a number of countries indicted in the United States.
The main focus of FIFA’s annual Congress, which begins in Mexico on Friday, will be bringing its 209 member football associations up to speed with recent reforms designed to stamp out corruption.
‘After going through some uneasy times, I truly believe that the organisation is on the verge of an exciting new era and that we can unite to work towards our common goal of developing football across the globe and at all levels,’ Infantino said in a statement released by FIFA on Monday.
His leadership must also deal with other problems, including the chronic financial difficulties and poor administration seen in many parts of the world, far from the glitter of competitions like the Champions League and top clubs such as Barcelona.
FIFPro, the world players’ union, has estimated that only 75 of national associations manage to run a professional league.
Even where these exist, the union has frequently complained about the treatment of its members, particularly in eastern Europe, saying they are often left unpaid and humiliated when they complain or try to leave.
Jerome Champagne, a rival of Infantino’s for the FIFA job, has warned that football risks losing its global appeal as talent drains towards a small number of European clubs.
In Nigeria, a judicial tug-of-war has seen rival factions, one led by FIFA-recognised Amaju Pinnick and another by Chris Giwa, each claiming to control the national soccer federation.
Amid the bickering, the three-times champions have failed to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations for the second time in a row, a major failure for the continent’s most populous nation.
While the new statutes insist that the national football associations adopt good governance principles, FIFA does not directly control the FAs and has not said clearly how it plans to make them comply.


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