Uefa elects new pres­i­dent

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

NYON — UEFA yes­ter­day over­whelm­ingly elected Slove­nian lawyer Alek­sander Ce­ferin, al­most un­known three months ago, as its new pres­i­dent to lead the world’s most pow­er­ful football con­fed­er­a­tion into a new era af­ter Michel Pla­tini was forced to re­sign.

Ce­ferin, 48, beat Dutch football as­so­ci­a­tion chief Michael van Praag by 42 votes to 13 in the first round of vot­ing af­ter promis­ing “bold” moves and an end to “in­trigues” as the 55-mem­ber Euro­pean body faces chal­lenges over its flag­ship Cham­pi­ons League.

“The wind of change is blow­ing through Euro­pean football. It is the end of one era and the start of a new one,” Ce­ferin said in a speech to a spe­cial congress in Athens shortly af­ter Pla­tini gave a farewell ad­dress and left through a side door.

Ce­ferin high­lighted the cred­i­bil­ity chal­lenges fac­ing scan­dal-tainted football, along with reg­u­lar ac­cu­sa­tions of match-fix­ing and dop­ing.

But he told a spe­cial congress in Athens: “I am not here to em­pha­sise the neg­a­tiv­i­ties that sur­round us. I don’t want to live in an em­pire of fear where ev­ery day we wake and see an­other neg­a­tiv­ity sur­fac­ing.

“I want to bring out all the good things Uefa has been do­ing and you have been do­ing.”

He added: “We are all tired of the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion and look for­ward to a nor­mal­i­sa­tion pe­riod that will be about pos­i­tive things, about friend­ship, about football.”

Ce­ferin said that Uefa had to be a leader in good gov­er­nance and trans­parency.

“We should stop with pol­i­tics, plots, in­trigues, lack of trans­parency, self in­ter­est, it is football first. It is what I prom­ise to all of you to­day, noth­ing more noth­ing less.”

On top of the ab­sence of Pla­tini since Oc­to­ber, af­ter he was sus­pended over a $2 mil­lion pay­ment from Fifa, Uefa has also faced dis­quiet over changes to the Cham­pi­ons League and spec­u­la­tion that ma­jor clubs could break away to form their own tour­na­ment.

Van Praag had called for a new look at a Uefa re­form an­nounced last week un­der which Eng­land, Ger­many, Italy and Spain will be guar­an­teed four places in the Cham­pi­ons League from 2018.

Ac­cord­ing to English Football As­so­ci­a­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Martin Glenn whether the plan goes ahead will be “the first big de­ci­sion’ fac­ing Ce­ferin, who made no men­tion of the big four in his speech.

At the start of the Congress, football leg­end Pla­tini was given re­spect­ful ap­plause for a farewell speech in which he said he felt no guilt about the pay­ment which de­stroyed his ca­reer as a sports leader.

“Just sim­ply know that my con­science is clear, that I am cer­tain that I com­mit­ted not the slight­est fault and that I am con­tin­u­ing to fight legally,” the 62-year-old said.

Pla­tini and for­mer Fifa leader Sepp Blat­ter are both un­der crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion by Swiss pros­e­cu­tors over the pay­ment that Blat­ter autho­rised in 2011 for work car­ried out a decade ear­lier with­out a con­tract.

Pla­tini was elected to a third five-year-term in March last year but was sus­pended in Oc­to­ber over the pay­ment and never re­turned to his of­fice. He of­fi­cially re­signed in May.

“You are go­ing to con­tinue this beau­ti­ful mis­sion with­out me, for rea­sons that I do not wish to come back on to­day,” he said.

Pla­tini, who had also been a Fifa vice pres­i­dent in line to take over from Blat­ter, thanked all those who sup­ported him dur­ing the scan­dal. — Sport24..

Alek­sander Ce­ferin

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