Michel Platini succeeds Lennart Johansson
Frenchman Michel Platini became the new president of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) after defeating the previous incumbent, the Swede Lennart Johansson, by 27 votes to 23 (with two ballots deemed invalid) at the 31st Ordinary UEFA Congress at the Dusseldorf Congress Centre on 26 January. Johansson had been head of UEFA since 1990.
“I am moved, deeply moved, but I am happy. This is the beginning of an adventure, not just for me, but also for you, Lennart. I need you,” said Platini after the result had been announced, holding out a hand of friendship to Johansson. Following a suggestion from Platini, who is the second Frenchman to take the helm at UEFA after Jacques Georges, Johansson was named UEFA honorary president.
In the emotional victory speech, by the end of which his voice had began to falter, Platini said, “We have a treasure in our hands: the world’s best-loved sport. I want to defend this treasure, so that it prospers for the benefit of everyone. The weak must help the strong. Football is a game before a product, a sport before a market, a show before a business.”
Platini’s victory signaled a desire on the part of the majority of UEFA delegates for the organization to chart a new course, even though Johansson’s 17 years in office had generated great economic success for UEFA trough the introduction of the Champion’s League.
As a result of his election as UEFA president, Platini, who has been a FIFA Executive Committee member since 2002, is now also a FIFA vice-president.