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Gianni Infantino to Lead FIFA Into New Era

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Gianni Infantino, second from right, with his main rival, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa.

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Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

ZURICH — Gianni Infantino looked out at the people who rule global soccer, the members of FIFA. Once, twice, he tried to begin his speech, clearly stunned. He had just won the FIFA presidency on Friday, but seemed to be still sorting out how it had happened.

Mr. Infantino’s ascent to perhaps the most powerful position in sports was hardly foreseeable several months ago. As soccer’s beleaguered governing body reeled from one crisis — that of widespread corruption allegations and arrests among its leadership — it seemed to be headed for another. Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, a member of Bahrain’s royal family, was considered the favorite to become the next FIFA president in Friday’s election but faced questions about possible connections to the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in his country.