The victory celebration over, new FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s first major decision in charge of the troubled world football organisation will be to appoint a secretary general, effectively a chief executive, to run day-to-day operations.
Since FIFA was founded in 1904, it has had 10 secretaries general, all from Europe, the game’s strongest continent.
At an event in London during his campaign for Friday’s presidential election, Infantino said: “I am convinced the general secretary of FIFA should not be a European. Why not an African?”
A source close to Infantino said on Monday that this “did not necessarily mean that an African would be chosen, more than he had not ruled out an African”.
That said, there would be a strong African contender in the shape of the Moroccan Hicham El Amrani.
The Paris-educated 36-year-old became general secretary of the African confederation (CAF) on an interim basis in 2010 and was confirmed in the role in September 2011.
He had previously been deputy general secretary at CAF and worked for the Asian Football Confederation in competitions marketing. He graduated in 2004 from the FIFA Masters course, which was created to train future football administrators from around the world.
El Amrani won the Young Leader of the Year award in 2015 from the ‘Leaders in Sports’ organisation partly in recognition of the way he handled the switch of the African Nations Cup to Equatorial Guinea after Morocco withdrew two months before the tournament because of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
“He is very, very capable,” said Swiss-based sports business consultant Joao Frigerio, who knows El Amrani from the FIFA Masters alumni association. “There is no doubt in my mind that he can be a great general secretary.”