Gianni Infantino vowed to win FIFA's upcoming presidential vote © Getty Images
Gianni Infantino vowed to win FIFA’s upcoming presidential vote © Getty Images

Nyon (Switzerland): UEFA approved the use of goal-line technology (GLT) for its competitions, as the body’s acting chief Gianni Infantino vowed to win FIFA‘s upcoming presidential vote. The greenlight for GLT, which has been expected, was given the final nod at UEFA’s executive committee meeting, with the technology to be introduced at the France-hosted Euro 2016 championship. Meanwhile, with the campaign heating up to replace Sepp Blatter as the head of world football’s scandal-tainted governing body, UEFA’s executive committee unanimously backed Infantino’s candidacy for FIFA’s February 26 vote.

Infantino, UEFA’s secretary general, said he was “honoured” by the support from Europe’s top football brass and voiced confidence of an election win. Asked how many votes he expected to get from the 209 FIFA member-associations who will pick the body’s next leader, Infantino said: “at least 105, which is the number needed to become the president of FIFA.” UEFA’s national associations have also “overwhelmingly” backed Infantino’s candidacy, but each nation will disclose its individual endorsement “in due course,” the executive committee statement said.

Infantino said the closely-watched decision on goal-line technology was ultimately made because the game did not benefit from uncertainty over goals. “We looked at it seriously,” he said. GLT “will dispel any doubt about whether a goal has been scored.” UEFA’s top body approved use of the technology for this summer’s continental championship and then for the 2016/17 Champion’s League, with GLT expected to ultimately extend to all UEFA competitions.

The technology is already used in the English Premier League, Italy’s Serie A, the German Bundesliga and Ligue 1 in France. FIFA also brought it in for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after a series of successful trials. “The system will work alongside additional assistant referees who will continue to monitor all activity in and around the penalty area,” UEFA said.

UEFA also said that it will not hold a vote to replace its banned president Michel Platini until the Frenchman’s appeals have been exhausted. Platini was initially suspended from football by FIFA in October over a 2 million Swiss franc ( 2 million/1.8 million euros) payment that Blatter authorised for him in 2011. In December, FIFA judges banned him for eight years. Platini, who had been the favourite to win FIFA’s presidency, has denied wrongdoing and vowed to appeal his ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.

UEFA said “there will be no presidential election scheduled” until sports appeals bodies have ruled on Platini’s case. The French football legend withdrew from the FIFA presidency race on January 7. Infantino is facing tough competition from four rivals in the contest to become the most powerful man in football. But, he said, those clamouring for an end to the scandals and allegations that have tarnished world football should have confidence in his leadership, dismissing the notion that he was a regional candidate.

“I am not the UEFA candidate. I am the European candidate…I am the football candidate,” he said. Thirty-nine people have been charged by the United States with corruption in football going back decades, while Swiss prosecutors have also opened investigations targeting Blatter and the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, won by Russia and Qatar respectively.

Top corporate sponsors of the World Cup like Visa and Coca-Cola have demanded sweeping change in global football’s management. “They know me,” Infantino said when asked if he had made contact with these corporations during his campaign. “They know how I work. They know who I am.”  FIFA presidential candidate Prince Ali bin al Hussein of Jordan has already sounded an alarm over impropriety in the campaign.

Hussein said a development deal agreed between the Asian and African confederations looked like a scheme to secure Africa’s backing for Asian football chief and FIFA presidential candidate Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa of Bahrain. Asked about fears of vote buying, Infantino said “he had no concerns at all with regards to this election.