FIFA hires Portugal team spokesman to lead communications

ZURICH (AP) — FIFA has hired long-time Portugal national team spokesman Onofre Costa as head of communications.

FIFA said Costa started work in Zurich on Monday with the title chief communications officer. He takes over from Fabrice Jouhaud, who led the world soccer body’s media department since August 2016.

“We welcome Onofre on board, while expressing our heartfelt gratitude to Fabrice for his years of good services and wishing him success in his future endeavors,” FIFA said in a statement.

Costa joins as European soccer resists FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s plans for new and expanded tournaments, including a 24-team Club World Cup.

He previously worked for Infantino as spokesman in the FIFA election campaign which the then-UEFA general secretary won in February 2016.

One of Costa’s first duties will be overseeing FIFA’s election congress on June 5 in Paris, where Infantino is unopposed to get a renewed four-year mandate.

At major soccer tournaments, including the 2016 European Championship won by Portugal, Costa has been a constant presence at news conferences with Cristiano Ronaldo and coach Fernando Santos.

Costa also worked on media strategy in 2010 for the Spain-Portugal campaign to host the 2018 World Cup, which the Russia bid won.

FIFA described him as a “seasoned executive with extensive experience in the world of football administration.”

Jouhaud had joined FIFA from the “L’Equipe 21” broadcast channel, run by the French sports newspaper.