New UEFA president says he will stand up to big clubs

Slovenia's Aleksander Ceferin replaces France's Michel Platini who resigned in May after being banned from football for four years.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Aleksander Ceferin, who is not a member of UEFA's executive committee, was little known outside his own country until he announced his intention to run in June.

Aleksander Ceferin was elected as the new president of UEFA and he has promised to stand up to big clubs.

"I guarantee you, on my watch I will not allow the clubs to put the gun to our head again," Ceferin said.

"For many years, the million dollar deals have been restricted to the big clubs alone. I believe that top football is played by too few clubs in too few competitions in limited areas."

Ceferin, 48, beat Dutchman Michael van Praag, the only other candidate, by 42 votes to 13 and will replace France's Michel Platini, who resigned in May, after being banned from football for four years. Platini, a former football star fell from grace over a disputed payment from the former FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

"I am not a showman, I have no ego issues and I am not a man of unrealistic promises," Ceferin told delegates before the vote.

Ceferin was not a member of UEFA's executive committee and only hit the spotlight when he  announced his intention to run in June.

The Slovenian lawyer said he will look at the controversial deal that will give more Champions League revenue to Europe's biggest clubs. UEFA's executive committee had recently agreed to give Spain, Germany, Italy and England four guaranteed slots each in the Champions League.

Ceferin said he will pursue Platini's plan, which comes into effect in four years, for Champion League matches to be spread out across the continent. Semi finals and finals will be held in the same country.