FIFA President attends event to commemorate Artemio Franchi

  • Event at Florence’s historic Palazzo Vecchio celebrates 100 years since Artemio Franchi’s birth

  • Artemio Franchi was UEFA President for 10 years and also a FIFA vice-president

  • FIFA President says players are the real actors and football administrators should stay in the background

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has taken part in an event in Florence to commemorate 100 years since the birth of Artemio Franchi, the former president of UEFA and of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC). The Chairman of FIFA's Referee Committee, Pierluigi Collina, also attended the event at the historic Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.

Artemio Franchi was FIGC President twice, from 1967-76 and then 1978-80, and was UEFA president from 1973 until 1983 when he died in a road accident. He also served as a FIFA vice-president and Executive Committee member for nine years.

Franchi played a key role in the inception of the UEFA Cup and was chiefly responsible for expanding the UEFA European Championship which became an eight-team tournament from 1980 onwards. Several Italian clubs have their stadiums named after him - including professional clubs Fiorentina, currently in Serie A, and Siena, in Serie C.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino at the event to commemorate Artemio Franchi. Photo: Maurizio Borsari

"It's a great honour to be here to celebrate Artemio Franchi," said the FIFA President in his address. “We are here to talk about what he has given to football because he wasn't simply the president of UEFA, or the vice-president of FIFA, but someone who defended sporting values and united a continent and believed in his own ideas.

“He became president of the FIGC one year after Italy lost to North Korea at the (1966) FIFA World Cup. Within one year, Italy won the European championship and two years later, they reached the Final of the FIFA World Cup in 1970.”

The FIFA President used the moment to talk about the role of administrators in sport, remembering that they should always take a back seat. "Our role is not to be protagonists but to be at the service of sport and prepare the stage for the real actors who are the players," he said. "As administrators, we have to protect the values of sport as Artemio Franchi did. Being a leader means listening, but also making decisions and acting on them.”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino at Viola Park

Mr Infantino also suggested that Rome’s Stadio Olimpico should be renamed after Paolo Rossi, the Italian 1982 FIFA World Cup™ winning forward who died in 2020.

Following the event, the FIFA President went on to visit the Viola Park, where Fiorentina’s new training centre is being built. He also sent his best wishes to Louis van Gaal, the coach of the Netherlands men’s national team who on Sunday revealed that he is being treated for prostate cancer, and Siniša Mihajlović, the coach of Italian Serie A side Bologna who is undergoing treatment for leukaemia.