It may not be possible to un-see Infantino's corner

Updated: Jun 10, 2019

I've become slightly obsessed with this clip of FIFA's head man, posted on Twitter by @SmnLlyd5.


Have a look for yourself.



I'm fascinated by the length of the run-up, the weirdly shit way he toe pokes the ball, the look of absolute contempt of the people in the box as the ball sails behind the goal, and the embarrassed silence that greets it.

Does it matter if the person in charge of the global game is be so obviously crap at football?

In theory, the answer is obviously no. Infantino is in the job in part because he isn't a pro footballer like Michel Platini, his former UEFA boss who he beat to the top job after much Blatter related hooha. Infantino's leadership story is that he's the business guy, the grown up in the room, who brings real world expertise to a game which is prone to giving big jobs to former superstars.

That was the idea anyway.

But then I read Gavin Esler's book on Leadership storytelling and it makes me wonder if that corner will be Infantino's STAR (Something They Always Remember). Every leader has a motif, something we think about when their name is mentioned, and which comes to define them.

It might reflect badly on me, but I don't think I'll ever see Infantino as the serious business guy ever again.


Meanwhile, Platini is on the offensive, talking to the excellent Jean-Phillippe Leclaire in L'Equipe. Former UEFA head Platini claims Infantino has "no legitimacy" and that he previously mocked women's football (HT Google translate).

"He has no legitimacy, he is not credible as FIFA president," Platini said in an interview with French sports daily L'Equipe and several other European newspapers.
There is no love lost between Platini, who was banned from football activities over a two million Swiss francs payment from FIFA, and Infantino, his former right-hand man.
Platini claimed that when Infantino was in his previous job as UEFA secretary-general "everyone knew that he was always criticising FIFA". 
With the women's World Cup set to kick off in France on Friday, Platini even claimed that Infantino, when they worked together at UEFA, never supported the development of women's football.
"How can he promote women's football when he always used to make fun of it? He never believed in it," Platini said.
Infantino, who became FIFA chief in 2015 after the scandal-tainted reign of Sepp Blatter, is set to be re-elected unopposed to a second term at a FIFA congress in Paris on Wednesday.
Platini, who starred as a player for Saint Etienne and Italian giants Juventus, is now campaigning for FIFA to lift his four-year ban from the sport.

When Platini lost out to Infantino, Simon Kuper wrote a brilliant piece in the FT called 'How to treat expired geniuses', where he bracketed the French midfield virtuoso with Franz Beckenbauer and Johan Cruyff.

These three were more than just great footballers. They were fascinating men. They built thriving second lives after football. Now that things have soured, the temptation is to blame them. Instead we should blame ourselves. Whole nations pushed Platini, Beckenbauer and Cruijff into roles they couldn’t handle.

Rather than give them administrator jobs, writes Kuper, "We should have put Platini, Cruijff and Beckenbauer on pedestals. Instead we promoted them beyond their capacities. Their current embarrassments are our fault."

Enter the management class, sweeping away the old guard of ex-pros, answering the 'show us your medals' question with MBA certificates.

It all makes perfect sense. But then I look at the clip of Infantino taking a corner. And I wonder if famous footballers might yet come back in to fashion.

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