Fifa reforms {New President

This Extraordinary Fifa Congress was less about electing a president to see out the rest of Sepp Blatter’s term to 2019 than it was about proving to the US Department of Justice that Fifa was showing itself to be taking seriously demands for clean up. 

Gianni Infantino's election to world football's top office, after winning 115 votes on the second count, and his campaign pledge to deliver a 40-team World Cup will garner most of the front and back page headlines but a more significant vote in terms of Fifa's future took pace earlier in the day. 

Friday began with Fifa’s acting secretary general Markus Kattner revealing that the organisation is facing a $550 million hit to its 2015-2018 revenues in the wake of the scandals which have plagued it. Furthermore, Fifa’s first budget deficit is expected to be announced later in the year. 

Mammoth legal bills following the twin US and Swiss investigations into corruption, disclosed toThe Times to be around $10m a month, as well as a drop in sponsorship income, with 24 of 37 Fifa slots unfilled and none signed since the 2014 World Cup, leave Fifa with a hole in its finances.

Those figures demonstrated that the US and Swiss investigations have impacted Fifa hard; previous presidential incumbent Sepp Blatter and deposed Uefa president Michel Platini, as well as former general secretary Jerome Valcke, are now serving bans while delegates in Zurich were jittery on the morning of the draw given the stunning wave of arrests which came ahead of last May’s election in which Blatter defeated Prince Ali bin al Hussein. 

It was therefore vital for Fifa to demonstrate its commitment to reform with the eyes of the world watching. Embarrassment was saved despite the Palestine delegate pleading to the congress that the calls for reform on the table should be ignored. 

The most important business of the day, therefore, was conducted even before the drawn-out presidential election in the afternoon. The 207 eligible voting member associations passed without too much trouble much-needed reforms of Fifa's organisational structure. 

Those reforms mean in effect than any incoming president's own manifesto would be rendered largely redundant. Luckily for Infantino, many of those proposed reforms appeared on his own presidential manifesto given that he sat on the Fifa reform committee. The reforms were initially ordered by Blatter and were designed to show the USDOJ and the Swiss Attorney General that Fifa was clear in its intentions to clean up from within. 

The USDOJ has so far indicted more than 40 individuals and marketing agencies for corruption involving sums said to be in excess of $200 million. Had the reforms not passed it would have provided a devastating blow for Fifa's credibility to prosecutors and could even have sunk the organisation as we know it. 

The reforms were carried by 179 votes to 22 against. 

There will now be what Fifa terms a "clear separation" of political and management functions. The tainted Fifa Executive Committee is no more. It will be replaced by a 35-strong Fifa Council with six spots reserved for women and a separate General Secretariat. 

The Fifa Council will take over "overall strategic direction" and the General Secretariat will look after "operational and commercial actions required to effectively execute that strategy." 

Furthermore, we will never again see a term as long as Blatter's notorious 17-year one as Fifa president for terms limits have finally been introduced at Fifa. The president, council members and members of the Audit and Compliance Committee will be able to sit for a maximum of three four-year terms. 

There will be greater scrutiny of council member elections and all candidates will be subject to eligibility and integrity checks conducted by an independent Fifa review committee. The pay of the president, the secretary general, council members and others will be disclosed annually. As well as that, Fifa says more will be done to control the flow of money. 

There will be universal good governing principles set for all confederations and member associations. Fifa’s commitments to human rights will be enshrined in the Fifa statutes. A New Football Stakeholder Committee will ensure greater transparency and inclusion. 

Infantino’s presence in the race to be president was closely entwined in those corruption investigations. The outgoing Uefa General Secretary only decided to run at late notice once Platini, his boss at Uefa, was suspended for accepting a "disloyal payment" from Blatter. There was speculation that he would back off if Platini was cleared but Infantino always maintained he was his own man and in it to win it. His campaign counted on the support of Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger and other notable figures.  

He has worked tirelessly on his campaign, visiting more than 100 countries, and was the only candidate to take up Tokyo Sexwale’s offer to visit Robben Island prison last week. 

Infantino also had the advantage of never having been on Fifa's top table before while rivals like Prince Ali bin al Hussein, Jerome Champagne and Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim el Khalifa were all familiar with its inner workings during its periods of decrepitude. 

He was at Uefa from 2009 until now and oversaw the implementation of Financial Fair Play, the expanded Uefa European Championship from 16 to 24 teams as well as being involved in the decision to take Euro 2020 on the road to 13 cities. Similar plans are afoot for the World Cup. He has outlined 11 key proposals for the first 90 days of his presidency. 

He is, though, not without his detractors. Infantino's manifesto pledge to increase Fifa payments for development projects, from $2m to $5m over a four-year cycle, as well as a promise of $40m to each of the six confederations would "bankrupt" the governing body according to presidential rival Sheikh Salman. 

He even had to fend off allegations that he had struck a deal with Sheikh Salman to stand as the Bahraini’s secretary general if he was elected president. 

Infantino is also feeling the heat from Uefa's failed match-fixing and bribery investigations in Turkey and Greece. Moreover his campaign pledge to deliver an expanded 40-team World Cup might have played well in Africa and Asia but faces huge opposition from the increasingly-influential European Club Association. 

The ECA's message of congratulations to Infantino reiterated its opposition to an expanded World Cup and included this warning from chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. 

"Everyone, the clubs, as well as the national and international associations, bears responsibility for the players. We have reached a point where we cannot further burden the players, but need to relieve them. Fifa must fulfil this responsibility for the health of the players. "