Figo and Lineker welcome Infantino's election as FIFA president

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Football News

Luis Figo and Gary Lineker were among the high-profile figures to welcome Gianni Infantino's election as FIFA president.

After a second round of voting at the world governing body's extraordinary congress in Zurich, the 45-year-old Swiss lawyer saw off Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al Khalifa of Bahrain.

Infantino secured 115 votes to Sheikh Salman's 88 to become the second successive Swiss president and takes over at a crucial time in FIFA's history.

Former world player of the year Figo ran a presidential campaign against previous incumbent Sepp Blatter in last year's election, only to pull out claiming it was "not a normal electoral act".

The Portuguese tweeted on Friday: "Congratulations @Gianni_2016 finally the change arrived - it's time for a new era in FIFA"

Former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan, ex-Italy goalkeeper Francesco Toldo and former Tottenham forward Mido were others to congratulate Infantino, as was Lineker.

"Wish @Gianni_2016 all the best," the former England forward said. "He's got one hell of a job on his hands but seems a decent chap. Needs a sizeable new broom."

Numerous football associations sent their congratulations, as did US Soccer president Sunil Gulati.

"Congratulations to @Gianni_2016 on being elected #FIFA President," he posted on Twitter. "We look forward to working together to embrace reform and good governance."

AC Milan director Umberto Gandini also took to social media to send his congratulations.

The Italian also serves as vice-chairman of European Club Association, which released a statement following the election.

"The European Club Association congratulates Gianni Infantino on his election as FIFA President," it said.

"ECA knows Gianni Infantino well through his previous role as UEFA General Secretary and takes the opportunity to thank him once again for the constructive and reform-oriented cooperation in recent years.

"We also expect to cooperate with him as FIFA President in a transparent, democratic and fruitful manner for the benefit of football.

"As an important football stakeholder, ECA has the ambition of shaping the future of football together with FIFA through direct inclusion in the decision-making process on all issues affecting the professional game.

"In this context, ECA reiterates its opposition to an expansion of the FIFA World Cup from 32 to 40 teams."

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, ECA chairman, added: "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. "

Meanwhile, Conservative MEP Emma McClarkin - a member of the New FIFA Now reform group and who organised a recent FIFA Presidential conference in the European Parliament - wants this election to signal a new era for FIFA.

"Today is not about Gianni Infantino taking over from Sepp Blatter, it is about the fact he will be implementing the reforms voted through this morning, which should only be the beginning of fundamental change in FIFA," the East Midlands MEP said.

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