New UEFA chief Ceferin promises to stand up to big clubs

Wed Sep 14, 2016 8:37am EDT
 
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By Brian Homewood

ATHENS (Reuters) - Aleksander Ceferin, a little-known Slovenian soccer official, was elected as the head of European soccer's governing body UEFA on Wednesday and promised to stand up to the big clubs.

The 48-year-old will replace disgraced Frenchman Michel Platini after comfortably beating experienced Dutch football administrator Michael van Praag by 42 votes to 13.

"I am not a showman, I have no ego issues and I am not a man of unrealistic promises," said Ceferin after the poll amongst Europe's 55 national football associations.

"My small and beautiful Slovenia is very proud about it and I hope that one day you will also be very proud about it."

Ceferin said his first task would be tackling widespread dissatisfaction at controversial changes to the Champions League agreed between UEFA and the European Club Association, which has 220 members from 53 FAs, in favor of the big clubs.

UEFA increased the number of places allocated to clubs from Spain, England, Germany and Italy in the lucrative group stage and cut the slots for the smaller countries. The move came amid threats that the big clubs could form a breakaway Super League.

"Whether I want it or not, I will have to deal with that and that will be the first thing to deal with," Ceferin told reporters.

"UEFA is a very good and very strong organization, it was without leadership for some time and I think that in a way was a problem in dealing with those things.   Continued...

 
Newly elected UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin of Slovenia is congratulated after the election during the UEFA Extraordinary Congress in Athens, Greece September 14, 2016. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis