UEFA starts search for a new president as Platini era ends

Suitable candidates appear sparse as Europe's ruling football body UEFA starts its search for a new president in succession of banned Michel Platini.

The image of German Wolfgang Niersbach is tainted by the affair around the 2006 World Cup; Spain's Angel Maria Villar Llona seen as a member of the old guard; and the likeliest candidate, former UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino, is now FIFA president.

That leaves Dutch federation president Michael van Praag, but he is seen merely as a transitional president, not just because the new boss will only see out Platini's term until 2019, but also due to his age of 68.

These three years could however be used by ambitious UEFA people to build a following for the 2019 election.

Up to now Platini ruled UEFA without any real opposition, and at age 60 would have likely had several more terms - unless he would have been elected FIFA president.

UEFA allowed Platini, in the top job since 2007, to exhaust all legal means in the effort to clear his name since being suspended in October 2015.

But Platini's fight within sports jurisdiction ended Monday when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld the ban in connection with a disloyal payment he received from then FIFA president Joseph Blatter in 2011.

As a result, Platini said through his lawyers that he would now step down as UEFA boss.

The most visible sign for the general public will be his absence at Euro 2016 in his native France, and it remains to be seen who will present the trophy to the champions on July 10 at the Stade de France.

Hosting its biggest event without a president may be an embarrassment for UEFA but it won't affect the running of the four-week showcase because the main responsibility lies within the administrative department and French organizers.

It is not completely ruled out that UEFA will have a new president by the time Euro starts on June 10, as officials have said that fast-track procedures would be possible.

However, it is more realistic that the executive committee will decide at a special meeting around the May 18 Europa League final to have the presidential election in mid-September when another congress is to take place to elect a female member for the FIFA council.

"The UEFA executive committee will meet on the morning of 18 May in Basel to discuss next steps, including the scheduling of an elective congress," UEFA said Monday.

For now Platini is still listed as president on the UEFA homepage, and the association also said "there will be no UEFA president appointed ad interim."

Last update: Tue, 10/05/2016 - 11:50
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