Aleksander Ceferin of Slovenia was elected the new president of European football governing body UEFA on Wednesday to succeed the banned Michel Platini.

The 48-year-old Ceferin, president of the Slovenian football association, defeated his only challenger the Dutch FA president Michael van Praag by an overwhelming 42 votes to 13 at an extraordinary congress in Athens.

"We are the guardians of the beautiful game," Ceferin said. "This responsibility is my compass and I want to maintan the balance between all the stakeholders."

Ceferin's most pressing tasks include reassuring the smaller associations in UEFA over recent changes to the Champions League which favour bigger countries and the bidding process for the 2024 European Championships.

Platini was banned from football in connection for what Swiss prosecutors described as a disloyal payment of some 2 million Swiss francs (2 million dollars) he received from then FIFA president Joseph Blatter in 2011 for work done as a FIFA presidential adviser a decade earlier.

Ceferin will now complete Platini's third four-year presidential term, which expires in March 2019.

Van Praag, 68, failed to convince delegates he was the man to take UEFA forward. His pre-election speech contained no revolutionary ideas but he said his age was not a problem, pointing out that Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones continue to tour into their 70s.

Ceferin, a lawyer, intends to discuss mandate restrictions and the introduction of a compliance department during his time in office and rejected accusations he lacked experience.

"If you always talk loudly to be a leader, you are probably not one," he said. "I am not a showman and I’m not a man of unrealistic promises."

And he also insisted he was not merely the frontman for others working behind the scenes.

"One day I am the puppet of (FIFA President Gianni) Infantino, on the next day the puppet of Platini, on the third day a Russian puppet.

"People obviously have problems in understanding that I am independent."

Before the election Platini was allowed to make a farewell speech having been given special permission to address the congress by world governing body FIFA despite his four-year ban.

"You are going to continue this wonderful mission without me," Platini told delegates. "I have a clear conscience, I have not made mistakes and will continue my fight in court."

The 61-year-old Platini, a former Juventus and France great, is now set to break his decades-long association with the game. Until being brought down by scandal, he was a strong candidate to replace Blatter as FIFA chief, a job which eventually went to former UEFA general secretary Infantino.

Italy's Evelina Christillin, organizer of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, was elected uncontested as UEFA's female representative on the FIFA council. New FIFA rules say every confederation must have at least one female member of the council.

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.