Philippine Football Federation (PFF) President Mariano Araneta said that the PFF welcomes the election of Gianni Infantino as Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) president.
“Of course, we would have been happier if Sheik Salman won because we were supporting him. But we are happy also with Gianni,” Araneta said in an interview with The Manila Times.
Salman is the incumbent head of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
“We were supporting Sheikh Salman, our AFC president, but nevertheless, they were the two best candidates. So when Gianni won, it was okay for us,” he added.
Infantino, who served as Union of Europian Football Assocations (UEFA) general secretary for seven years, enjoyed a slim 88-85 lead in the first round of voting before winning 115 to 88 against Salman in the second round.
The 45-year-old Swiss-Italian will lead FIFA until 2019, succeeding controversial long-time FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
Blatter’s tenure, which started in 1998, was marred by controversy and corruption allegations that tainted the name of one of the biggest sporting organizations in the world.
“It was not really the dark ages. Most of these corruptions were done not in the FIFA itself. Of course, there were questions about Blatter and Platini regarding the payment of the salaries,” Araneta said.
Araneta said that he is optimistic that Infantino could initiate a fresh start for FIFA.
“Gianni’s young and full of energy. I think and I can see that he is not involved with anything,” he said.
“I hope everybody will support him as what Sheik Salman has done. He has written a letter to all of us in the AFC to support the new president. What’s important now are the reforms that we have approved should be implemented,”
Araneta added that he appreciated the gesture of Infantino to boost the funding for the FIFA member associations especially for developing football nations such as the Philippines.
“As what you have probably learned now, he promised a lot of funding for the associations. He promised the associations five million dollars in four years. That’s an additional 1.25 million in funding for us per year.”
He said that with the additional subsidy that the PFF is about to receive, the country’s national football governing body could improve their programs for the development of the sport.
“He said that money should be given for development. He is supporting us in terms of funding to develop football in our country. $1.25 million will go a long way especially in grassroots and youth development,” he concluded.
Jaelle Nevin Reyes