FIFA Council rubber-stamps meteoric rise of Mattias Grafstrom to general secretary

May 15 – On the eve of the FIFA Congress, the world governing body has confirmed the appointment of Mattias Grafstrom as secretary-general following a meeting of the FIFA Council. 

The Council meeting also addressed racism in football and confirmed a 16-team Women’s World Club Cup for 2026. Palestine was also high on the agenda among football officials.

Grafstrom, a Swede, with Dutch heritage as well, was a strong favourite to assume the role after he had been appointed secretary-general ad interim in October 2023 after Fatma Samoura’s departure was announced last June.

In a statement, Grafstrom said: “I am humbled and deeply honoured to have been appointed FIFA Secretary General and I would like to thank the FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, the Confederation Presidents, the Vice-Presidents and the members of FIFA Council for having trusted me to serve football in such an important position.”

“Football is my passion since I was born. I started playing it as a child and worked in football all my life at all different levels. There are therefore no words to express my feelings as I accept with pride and with a great sense of responsibility, the biggest challenge of my professional life. Together with the FIFA team, I will of course dedicate myself more than ever to the service of our beautiful game of football, FIFA and its 211 Member Associations.”

With the appointment, Grafstrom, a very close ally of Infantino, will on paper become the second most powerful man in world football, marking a steep rise from his days at European governing body Uefa.

At FIFA, he was chief of staff before becoming deputy secretary general and then secretary general ad interim.

He will take over the FIFA administration after the controversial reign of Fatma Samoura, who was described by Infantino as ‘a trailblazer’, but her time in Zurich was often controversial and her authority frequently undermined by the real politik of FIFA’s executive.

Friday will mark Grafstrom’s first Congress in his new role with racism, Palestine, the host award of the 2027 Women’s World Cup and a raft of proposed amendments to the FIFA Statutes on the agenda. FIFA’s press release did not mention a long-awaited Qatar labour report.

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