Four years after Blatter left, Infantino is set to gain admission to Olympic club

By David Owen

December 6 – FIFA president Gianni Infantino is finally set to enter world sport’s most prestigious club. The 49-year-old is one of three new International Olympic Committee (IOC) members proposed for the next IOC Session in Lausanne on January 10.

The move will come almost four years after the Swiss national took over as head of the world’s biggest sport with the body engulfed in scandal.

Ex-FIFA president Sepp Blatter ceased to be an IOC member in 2015, while Issa Hayatou, the Cameroonian who was briefly acting president, left at the end of 2016. FIFA council member Lydia Nsekera from Burundi has remained ensconced throughout, having entered the IOC in 2009.

Infantino’s membership will be tied to his international federation post, as will that of David Haggerty, president of the International Tennis Federation, who is set to enter the IOC at the same time.

The former UEFA secretary general’s arrival at the top table may increase the likelihood of a change in format of the Olympic men’s football tournament some time after next year’s Olympic Games in Japan. The competition is currently for under-23s, with three over-age players permitted per squad.

Given the IOC’s current emphasis on gender equality, not to mention Infantino’s track record for making things bigger, an eventual expansion of the women’s competition from its current 12 teams also looks possible.

Football usually generates a high proportion of overall Olympic Games ticket sales.

Infantino is set to get an early taste of the Olympic world to which he is about to be admitted as one of 24 attendees at the latest Olympic Summit, also in Lausanne, this evening and Saturday morning.

Also in attendance will be the likes of athletics boss Sebastian Coe and Russian Olympic Committee head Stanislav Pozdnyakov. The power conclave takes place firmly behind closed doors.

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