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Football: Slovenian Aleksander Ceferin elected UEFA president

'The wind of change is blowing through European football. It is the end of one era and the start of a new one,' said Ceferin. Photograph: (Getty)

WION Athens, Greece Sep 14, 2016, 11.01 AM (IST)
Head of Slovenian football association Aleksander Ceferin was elected president of European football's governing body UEFA on Wednesday.

The 48-year-old defeated Dutch football association chief Michael van Praag by 42 votes to 13, reported AFP.

Ceferin succeeds Michel Platini who was forced to resign as president in May after receiving a ban from football by FIFA's ethics committee . The newly elected leader will complete the remaining two and a half years of Platini's four-year term.

"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 at a special congress in Athens shortly after Platini gave a farewell address and left through a side door.

The Slovenian lawyer spoke about the challenges associated with the scandal-tainted sport, along with accusations of match-mixing and doping. However, he denied that he was emphasising the negativity.

"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," Ceferin told a special congress in Athens.

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and two others are facing an investigation over the salaries and bonuses they received in the office. Blatter has been banned from football for ethics violations related to a payment of 2 million Swiss francs that FIFA made to the former European soccer boss Michel Platini with Blatter's approval in 2011 for work done a decade earlier.

"You are going to continue this beautiful mission without me, for reasons that I do not wish to come back on today," Platini said in his farewell speech. "I would also stress that I bear no grudges against those who have not supported me, everyone has the right to their own convictions."

UEFA announced significant changes to their flagship Champions League in August this year. From 2018/19 season, the top four European leagues  - currently Spain, Germany, England and Italy  - will each be guaranteed four places in the group stage, UEFA competitions director Giorgio Marchetti had told reporters.

(WION with inputs from AFP)
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