FIFA Boss Gianni Infantino gets approval to extend tenure until 2031

Gianni Infantino has secured backing from the FIFA Council to potentially extend his presidency until 2031 – beyond the 12-year limit envisaged in reforms of the scandal-plagued football body he helped to draw up.

The job running world football pays around $3m (£2.46m) annually and he is unopposed to be re-elected in March.

The FIFA ruling body chaired by Mr Infantino confirmed today he was only now serving his first term as president, disregarding his first three years in power as counting towards term limits.

After scandals that toppled Sepp Blatter and threatened the future of FIFA, Mr Infantino was elected in 2016 to complete the rest of his disgraced predecessor’s term at a special election.

Mr Infantino was re-elected by the FIFA Congress in 2019 and that has now been decided – in a private meeting in Qatar – to count as his first term.

The Swiss-Italian will be re-elected for another term in March at the gathering of 211 member associations.

The former UEFA general secretary could then seek another four years running world football from 2027 to 2031 – giving him 15 years in the job.

In December, the FIFA reform committee said that in future the president should serve “no more than three terms of four years (whether consecutive or not) for a maximum of 12 years.”

Taking the last part of the sentence would mean Mr Infantino would have to leave office in 2028.

But at a news conference today in Qatar, Mr Infantino said the FIFA Council provided “clarification that concerns me”.

He added: “The clarification with regards to my term of office. So currently I am in my first term of office and on March 16 when there is the election for the FIFA president in Kigali in Rwanda, my second term of office as FIFA president will start. There is a limit of three terms.”

FIFA president Gianni Infantino shakes hands with David Beckham in the stands during the Qatar World Cup

A reason for the term limits was to prevent football leaders staying in power too long and creating political dependencies on the leader.

Mr Blatter was FIFA president for 17 years and predecessor Joao Havelange held the job for 24 years.

Mr Infantino had a position on the FIFA reform committee in his previous role as the head of the administration at the European governing body as UEFA general secretary.

His candidacy for the FIFA presidency was announced in October 2015 after the favourite – then UEFA president Michel Platini – was suspended.