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FIFA presidential candidate Infantino to visit Russia ahead of Feb. 26 elections

January 27, 17:46 UTC+3
The information is subject to confirmation, as well as the date
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Gianni Infantino

Gianni Infantino

© Lars Poulsen/POLFOTO via AP

MOSCOW, January 27. /TASS/. Gianni Infantino, one of the five candidates running for the presidential post in the world football’s governing body, FIFA, plans visiting Russia as part of his election campaign, a spokesman for UEFA told TASS on Wednesday.

"Indeed, Mr. Infantino is planning to visit Russia," Onofre Costa, one of UEFA spokespersons, said in a letter addressed to TASS. "This information is subject to confirmation, as well as the date."

The officially registered candidates running for the post of the FIFA president in February 26 elections are: UEFA Secretary General Gianni Infantino, FIFA Vice President and Jordanian Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, South Africa’s ex-Minister Of Housing Construction Tokyo Sexwale, former FIFA Secretary General Jerome Champagne and President of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.

A chain of corruption scandals rocked FIFA throughout last year. Everything flared up within an unprecedented scandal on the morning of May 27, one day before the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich, where seven of the organization’s high-ranking officials were arrested in Switzerland on bribery, money laundering and corruption charges.

In the most recent development of events, the previously suspended FIFA and UEFA presidents, Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini respectively, were both banned on December 21 for eight years by FIFA's Ethics Committee from all international football activities over allegedly illegal financial transfer from FIFA to Platini.

Blatter, 79, was reelected for his fifth consecutive four-year presidential term on May 29, when his only rival Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan pulled out after the first round of vote.

However, addressing a news conference in Zurich on June 2, Blatter said he decided to lay down his mandate at FIFA extraordinary elective Congress. FIFA announced in July that the election of the new president would be held next year on February 26.

In his election campaign manifesto, which Infantino published last week, he proposed that more than two countries should be having the privilege of hosting the FIFA World Cup at one time.

"FIFA should investigate the possibility of organizing the World Cup not only in one or two countries but in a whole region, so enabling several countries to enjoy the honor and benefits of hosting the World Cup," Infantino said in his election campaign manifesto.

His proposal of hosting the global football tournament echoes the first-ever attempt to hold the European football championship in 2020 in separate countries for the first time.

The decision to hold the 2020 Euro Cup, which in four years will be celebrating its 60th anniversary, in various European countries instead of in one or two hosting countries was made at the UEFA Executive Committee’s meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on December 6, 2012.

The decision came as a result of UEFA’s then-President Michel Platini’s initiative, who proposed concept of the 2020 tournament "EURO for Europe."

2020 UEFA Euro Cup

Four cities in different European countries will be hosting each three group stage matches and one quarterfinal match of the 2020 Euro Cup and they are St. Petersburg (Russia), Rome (Italy), Munich (Germany) and Baku (Azerbaijan).

Copenhagen (Denmark), Bucharest (Romania), Amsterdam (the Netherlands), Dublin (Ireland), Bilbao (Spain), Budapest (Hungary), Brussels (Belgium) and Glasgow (Scotland) will each host three group stage matches and one match of the Last 16 round.

UEFA’s Executive Committee decided that the semifinals and the final of the 2020 UEFA Euro Cup, which in six years will be celebrating its 60th anniversary, will be held at the Wembley Stadium in London.

Addressing the Ordinary UEFA Congress in London in May of 2013, Platini said "In 2020, the EURO will never have better lived up to its name."

Infantino backed Platini’s initiative at that time saying "An opportunity like this, to give many cities and many countries the possibility to host even just one part of a EURO, is certainly an excellent thing, especially in times when you have an economic situation where you cannot expect countries to invest in the facilities such an event requires."

"Certainly one of the purposes of this decision is to help countries who are perhaps not sure today whether they should build a national stadium - giving them the impetus to build such a stadium," Infantino said at that time. "Instead of having a party in one country, we will have a party all over Europe in 2020."

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