LAUSANNE, Switzerland, Nov 8 – Incumbent Aleksander Ceferin is virtually assured re-election as UEFA president after European football’s ruling body confirmed Thursday he is the sole candidate for next February’s elections.
Slovenian Ceferin, a lawyer, has held the post since 2016 when he replaced former France legend Michel Platini, who was forced to resign several months previously following confirmation of his suspension by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
UEFA had set a date limit of November 7 for potential candidates to formally express interest ahead of the February 7, 2019 election, to be held in Rome.
Ceferin, 51, was previously president of the Slovenian football federation from 2011 to 2016.
Known for his discretion and less charismatic approach compared to Platini, Ceferin vehemently opposed a raft of recent proposals by FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
Infantino, a candidate for his own re-election in June 2019, courted controversy in recent weeks with a number of proposals that sparked opposition from UEFA.
Infantino agreed at a recent FIFA Council meeting in Rwanda to delay any decision over his plans for a Club World Cup and a global Nations League, instead setting up a taskforce to study the proposals.
That was reportedly after UEFA delegates threatened to walk out in protest.
Infantino has been pushing to revamp the Club World Cup by expanding it from the current seven clubs to 24 and holding it every four years. Twelve of the teams would be European.
He has said he has an offer of $25 billion over 12 years for that and the Nations League from private investors, identified by Football Leaks as Japan’s Softbank.
Among Ceferin’s future challenges is facing down criticism of the perceived imbalance between the smaller and bigger leagues in European competition.
The European Leagues association is demanding that Europe’s ‘big four’ leagues of Spain, England, Germany and Italy are given three, instead of four, automatic qualifying places for the Champions League and for resources to be shared more equally.
Ceferin is also expected to review the Financial Fair Play (FFP) system set up by Platini in 2010.
According to reports by Football Leaks, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City are among clubs who saw potentially heavy sanctions for infringing FFP rules toned down following discussions with UEFA at a time when Infantino was the body’s secretary general.