Unknown Slovenian lawyer elected as European football’s new leader

Aleksander Ceferin, a little-known Slovenian lawyer, has been elected as the new president of UEFA, European football’s governing body. The 48-year-old head of the Slovenian federation beat his Dutch rival Michael van Praag by 42 votes to 13 at an extraordinary congress in Athens. Mr Ceferin will now complete the remaining two-and-a-half years of former president Michel Platini’s term, after the Frenchman was banned from all football activities in December. “Dear friends, thank you for your fantastic support,” Ceferin said after the result was announced.“ "It’s a great honour, but also a great responsibility.”

It means a lot to me and my family is very proud, and my small and beautiful Slovenia is very proud about it. I hope one day you will also be proud of me

Aleksander Ceferin

The special election was called after Mr Platini’s ban for taking a payment of £1.35m from the world governing body FIFA in 2011. Despite the ban, he was allowed by FIFA’s ethics committee to address UEFA delegates as a “gesture of humanity” and, as expected, took the opportunity to again deny any wrongdoing. Before the vote, Mr Ceferin used his 15-minute pitch to delegates at the Grand Resort Lagonissi hotel to address concerns about his age and experience. He described himself as a “team player” and vowed to be “the most accessible and approachable UEFA president ever”. Mr van Praag, 68, likened himself to the “still rocking” Rolling Stones, saying his age was his “USP” and his experience his greatest asset.

I have a clear conscience, I am certain not to have made any mistake and will continue to fight this in the courts

Michel Platini