Aleksander Ceferin has been confirmed as the new president of UEFA after beating fellow candidate Michael van Praag in Wednesday’s election.
The head of the Slovenian Football Association was the overwhelming favourite to replace disgraced former president Michel Platini during the vote at UEFA’s Congress in Athens.
And the 48-year-old received 42 votes from the 55 UEFA members to easily claim the required simple majority of 28.
“Dear friends, thank for your fantastic support. It’s a great honour but at the same time great responsibility,” Ceferin said on stage following his victory.
“It means a lot to me, it means me and my family are very proud. My small and beautiful Slovenia is also very proud about it. Thank you very much.”
— UEFA (@UEFA) 14 September 2016
The position of president became available when Platini resigned his position in May after failing to overturn a ban from all football-related activity with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Platini’s suspension, which was lowered to four years from six, was in relation to a $2million (£1.3m) disloyal payment from former FIFA chief Sepp Blatter in 2011.
The Frenchman denies any wrongdoing and, during a farewell address to the Congress, vowed to continue his legal fight.
Speaking to ESPN earlier this week, Ceferin outlined that his key aims as president are to battle match-fixing and to change the bidding process for the Champions League, European Championship and other major events.
In his final speech before the vote, Ceferin had seemingly aimed a thinly veiled dig at Van Praag’s “building bridges” manifesto promises by stating “building pitches is better”.
But Van Praag vowed to back his opponent and called on his supporters to follow suit.
“Losing is of course not nice, but I have to thank everybody for the open and clear campaign,” he said.
“The way I was received was very nice and I cherish the nice talks I had with nice colleagues.
“I think it was in Italy that Aleksander took to the floor and said ‘we are not enemies’. That’s exactly how it is, we have the same goal, look at our programmes, we want a better UEFA.
“Today, democracy has spoken. I respect that, I want to thank the countries that supported me until the end, but I call on them to back Aleksander.
“It is up to him but if he wants my assistance, but I of course offer it to him.”
Ceferin will now take on the remainder of Platini’s term of office until 2019.
The Slovenian is also likely to enter negotiations on the Champions League, with many objecting to the news that England, Germany Italy and Spain will have four guaranteed spots in Europe’s premier competition from the 2018-19 campaign.
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