DW looks at the chronology of Gianni Infantino’s rise to become the most powerful man in the world of soccer.
March 23, 1970: Gianni Infantino is born in Brig in the southern Swiss canton of Valais. He is the third child of Maria and Vincenzo Infantino, who came to Switzerland as Italian guest workers. Infantino holds Swiss and Italian citizenship.
August 2000: After graduating from high school, studying law at the University of Friborg in the west of Switzerland and his first professional stations as a lawyer, Infantino starts working for the European soccer association UEFA.
January 2004: Infantino is promoted to director of legal and club licensing.
October 2009: Infantino, considered a protege of then UEFA President Michel Platini, becomes general secretary, making him the second most powerful man in the association. Infantino, who speaks six languages, becomes known to the wider soccer public for his eloquent hosting of the Champions League and European Championship draws.
Michel Platini (l.) and Gianni Infantino (r.)
July 2015: In the wake of the FIFA corruption scandal, Infantino becomes a member of a 13-member committee tasked with initiating reforms in the world governing body.
October 2015: UEFA President Platini and Joseph Blatter, president of FIFA, are suspended from their posts and later banned for several years over an ominous million-dollar payment made by Blatter to Platini in 2011. Shortly before the deadline, Infantino applied to succeed Blatter as FIFA chief on October 25. “I can’t just sit and watch FIFA destroy itself,” says the UEFA general secretary. Platini had actually wanted to succeed Blatter, Infantino was only seen as a stopgap solution.
February 26, 2016: At the FIFA Congress in Zurich, Infantino is elected as the new president of the world governing body. In the second round of voting, he receives the majority of votes and prevails over the favored Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa from Bahrain. “I want to work with them all to restore and rebuild FIFA,” Infantino promises the delegates at the congress.
August 2016: FIFA’s ethics committee closes investigations into Infantino. Critics had accused him, among other things, of squandering FIFA funds.
Infantino is looking to run for a third term
January 2017: The newly formed FIFA Council approves the expansion of the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams, starting with the 2026 World Cup, as advocated by Infantino.
May 2017: Ahead of the FIFA Congress in Bahrain, the FIFA Council chaired by FIFA President Gianni Infantino removes the two chairmen of the FIFA Ethics Committee, Hans-Joachim Eckert and Cornel Borbely, and other members without giving reasons.
March 2018: Infantino informs the FIFA Council about an offer from a financial consortium from the Middle East and Asia. The investors reportedly want to buy two FIFA competitions for around 25 billion US dollars (just over 20 billion euros): first, the Club World Cup, which is to be reformed beforehand, and second, a global Nations League. This plan of Infantino’s later comes to nothing.
August 2018: A new FIFA Code of Ethics is adopted. The word “corruption” is missing, and a statute of limitations is introduced for corresponding offenses.
June 2019: At the FIFA Congress in Paris, Infantino is confirmed as president of the organization for another four years by acclamation, ie without being elected. 197 of 211 associations had previously approved this procedure.
Infantino is an advocate of the World Cup in Qatar
March 2020: Infantino is elected to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
June 2020: The Swiss public prosecutor’s office opens criminal proceedings against Infantino. It accuses him of inciting abuse of office by meeting secretly with the head of the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, Michael Lauber. In August 2020, the FIFA Ethics Committee stops its investigation into the matter due to a lack of credible evidence.
September 2021: Infantino’s plan to organize World Cups every two years instead of every four years become known.
November 2021: Former UEFA president Platini reports Infantino to the French judiciary. He accuses his former friend of plotting against him before the election of the FIFA president in February 2016.
January 2022: FIFA confirms press reports that Infantino has had a second home in the World Cup host country of Qatar since the fall of 2021. The president spends half of his working time in Doha, FIFA says, and continues to pay taxes to Switzerland.
March 2022: Infantino announces his candidacy for a third term in 2023.
This article was translated from German