Mattias Grafström confirmed as FIFA Secretary General. X/@FIFAcom

Having been named as FIFA's interim secretary general last October, Mattias Grafström was formally appointed to the position by the FIFA Council in Bangkok on Wednesday ahead of the 74th FIFA Congress.

Senegalese Fatma Samoura had assumed the role in 2016 and announced in June 2023 that she would step down at the end of the year. However, she was replaced ahead of schedule on an interim basis by her deputy Grafström.

Viewed as an ally of FIFA President Gianni Infantino, Grafström joined FIFA as deputy director of its legal division in 2016 after the Swiss succeeded Sepp Blatter. He was soon promoted to be Samoura's deputy and has now assumed the number two position at football's world governing body.

The dual Swedish and Dutch national said, "I am humbled and deeply honoured to have been appointed FIFA Secretary General and I would like to thank the FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, the Confederation Presidents, the Vice-Presidents and the members of FIFA Council for having trusted me to serve football in such an important position.

“Football is my passion since I was born. I started playing it as a child and worked in football all my life at all different levels. There are therefore no words to express my feelings as I accept with pride and with a great sense of responsibility, the biggest challenge of my professional life. Together with the FIFA team, I will of course dedicate myself more than ever to the service of our beautiful game of football, FIFA and its 211 Member Associations."

Mattias Grafström at a FIFA World Cup national team workshop in Doha in July 2022. KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images
Mattias Grafström at a FIFA World Cup national team workshop in Doha in July 2022. KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images

As well as the FIFA Congress, which gets underway on Friday, Grafström faces immediate challenges regarding the new format of the FIFA Club World Cup. Last week, the World Leagues Association (WLA) and players' union FIFPRO claimed the football calendar was "beyond saturation" and asked FIFA to move the 32-team competition - currently scheduled for 13 June-15 July next year - or face legal action.

In a robust response, Grafström said, "We reject any suggestion or inference that FIFA is somehow 'imposing' the International Match Calendar (IMC) on the football community without adequate consultation or to suit its own 'business strategy'." He also pointed out that WLA members, including the English Premier League, had organised summer competitions in recent years without complaint.