Gianni Infantino has been FIFA President since 2016 ©Getty Images

Sole candidate for FIFA President Gianni Infantino has been re-elected by acclamation for a fresh term through to 2027 at the organisation's Congress in Rwanda's capital Kigali.

The Swiss official succeeded his disgraced compatriot Sepp Blatter after winning an election in 2016, and secured a full four-year term unopposed in 2019.

Despite criticism towards FIFA over its handling of human rights concerns related to the Qatar 2022 men's World Cup, Infantino was confirmed as the only candidate for the Presidential role in November last year.

FIFA senior vice-president Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa, the Bahraini official who was also re-elected unopposed as Asian Football Confederation President in February, invited delegates for a round of applause to confirm Infantino's latest term.

"My team, all of you, the FIFA team, the Council team, the Committees team, the Member Associations team, the legends team - I would have loved to have been a legend as well," Infantino laughed as he began his address thanking delegates.

"All those who love me, and I know there are so many, and also hate me, I know there are a few, I love you all, of course today especially."

FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura of Senegal then declared: "We love you President."

Infantino, who became an International Olympic Committee member in 2020, added: "Being of course President of FIFA is an incredible, incredible honour.

"It is an incredible, incredible privilege as well, and it is also a great, great responsibility.

"I'm truly humbled and touched by your support, and I simply promise you that I will continue serving FIFA, serving football all over the world, serving all 211 Member Associations of FIFA.

"Leadership is obviously about listening and learning, and you always learn and I think I am learning every day.

"Leadership is also about acting, and I'm certainly there to act so you can continue to trust on my commitment, and the only thing I am asking you is for this, my second term, to continue working hard together to unite the world with football."

FIFA President Gianni Infantino was re-elected by acclamation at the Congress in Kigali ©Getty Images
FIFA President Gianni Infantino was re-elected by acclamation at the Congress in Kigali ©Getty Images

Although the FIFA President is limited to three four-year terms, FIFA's Council in December endorsed the FIFA's Governance, Audit and Compliance Committee's ruling that Infantino's first three years in office do not count as a term because Blatter won the 2015 election, meaning he could remain in the Presidential role until as late as 2031.

In his Presidential address at the Congress, Infantino appeared to claim he drew inspiration for his 2016 Presidential election victory from Rwanda's response to the 1994 genocide, in which up to 800,000 members of the Tutsi minority ethnic group are estimated to have been killed.

He recalled a visit to Rwanda in 2016 in which he was told he would not be supported and considered ending his campaign, before visiting a memorial to the genocide.

"I said, 'who I am to give up?'," Infantino said.

"What this country has suffered and how this country came back up is inspiring for the entire world.

"So I certainly couldn’t give up because someone was telling me something."

The former UEFA general secretary has claimed he has moved FIFA on from its scandal-tainted past under Blatter and has overseen an expansion in the men's and Women's World Cups and increases in the global governing body's revenues.

He promised revenues of $11 billion (£9.1 billion/€10.4 billion) in the next four-year cycle, and there are plans for more football including an expanded men's Club World Cup from 2025.

"We need way more and not less competitions", Infantino insisted.

Infantino's most recent term featured controversial proposals for biennial men's and Women's World Cups, which were shelved after strong opposition from Europe and South America.

Player welfare groups have questioned the impact of additional matches, including the 2026 men's World Cup, which is set to increase from 64 to 104 games under the new 48-team format.

Gianni Infantino insisted Qatar 2022 was
Gianni Infantino insisted Qatar 2022 was "the best World Cup ever", despite heavy criticism over FIFA's handling of human rights concerns ©Getty Images

Infantino faced heavy criticism for his stance on human rights issues at Qatar 2022, including his bizarre and remarkable pre-tournament press conference in which he accused Western nations of hypocrisy and made a series of statements including "today I feel gay", "today I feel disabled" and "today I feel a migrant worker".

Several European nations were blocked from wearing the "OneLove" armband at the World Cup in a show of support for LGBTQ+ rights, alleging that their captains had been threatened with yellow cards for doing so.

FIFA had urged teams to "focus on the football" and "not be dragged into every ideological or political battle that exists" prior to the tournament, sparking an outcry.

Qatar was awarded hosting rights for the World Cup in the disputed 2010 bidding process.

Homosexuality is illegal in the Gulf state, the rights of women are severely restricted, and human rights groups continue to criticise its treatment of migrant workers and have called on FIFA to compensate abused labourers and their families.

At the Congress, Infantino doubled down on his claim that Qatar 2022 was "the best World Cup ever".

A recent report by Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung suggested that Infantino and former Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber were spied on by Qatar during a meeting in Bern in 2017, although it has been vigorously denied by the World Cup host nation and FIFA said the President "has no knowledge of any secret surveillance actions" and "there has never been any even remote attempt by anyone to influence him".

Infantino was interviewed for a second time by Swiss authorities in January in a criminal investigation relating to three alleged secret meetings with Lauber in 2016 and 2017.

Both have denied any wrongdoing.

A separate investigation into the FIFA President's charter of a private jet between Suriname and Geneva in 2017 was dropped by prosecutors last week.