On Saturday, three national federation presidents were announced in the shortlist of candidates to replace Michel Platini as head of Uefa.
Michael van Praag (the Netherlands), Angel Maria Villar (Spain) and Aleksandar Ceferin (Slovenia) were announced as the only candidates to have submitted their bids in time for Uefa’s deadline on Wednesday (July 20).
The three candidates will now contest a closed ballot to be held at the 12th Extraordinary Uefa Congress on September 14 in Athens, Greece, to elect the new president of Uefa. The date will also mark the day when Platini officially steps down as president—a position which is technically vacant at the moment. The respective heads of each of the 55 national federations which are members of Uefa will caste a single vote for the candidates in a closed ballot.
The elected president will serve out a term of three years, effectively filling in as a replacement to complete Platini’s third four-year term as president of Uefa which ends in 2019.
Platini is currently serving a four-year ban from football-related activities—which has resulted in his ouster from his role as president—because of ethics violations related to a 2 million Swiss francs payment he received from Fifa in 2011. The payment was sanctioned by defamed former Fifa president Sepp Blatter for work supposedly done by Platini a decade prior to receipt of the payment.
At the top of the agenda for the new president will be the issue of the proposed Super League for elite European clubs. The new proposed league—which has been backed by several high-profile football managers and administrators in privately conducted meetings—guarantees a position for big clubs in a league system resembling the current Champions League while alienating smaller teams because of qualification restrictions.
Since Uefa’s club competitions for the 2018-21 bracket have to be finalised before the end of this year, the issue of the Super League will have to be addressed and resolved as so as a new president is elected.
The president of Uefa will also become a Fifa vice-president automimatically because of which all three candidates will be put through a Fifa eligibility review before the election.
Another ballot will be conducted on the same day to elect Uefa’s women’s delegate to the Fifa council with two candidates contesting the position. Evelina Christillin of Italy and Laura McAllister of Wales are the two candidates who will also be subject to an eligibility check by Fifa.
Here are the profiles of the candidates for the Uefa presidency:
Michael van Praag
Current position: President of the Royal Netherlands Football Association
Leverage for votes: Van Praag is currently a Uefa vice-president along with his national federation responsibilities. He stood for the FIFA presidency election against Sepp Blatter last year but withdrew his nomination days before the election. He promises to lift the impasse he claims Uefa has fallen into since Platini’s suspension and plans to take on the Super League as one of his primary objectives.
Angel Maria Villar (Spain)
Current position: President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation
Leverage for votes: Villar is currently a Uefa vice-president and also a Fifa vice-president. He has been a member of Fifa’s ruling committee for 18 years and the leader of the Spanish national federation since 1988; in power for 28 years through seven re-elections.
Current position: President of the Football Association of Slovenia
Leverage for votes: Ceferin is a relative newbie in European football politics when compared to his rivals. However, he claims to have a lion’s share of support from other federations. Ceferin says he has the backing of 13 Eastern European federations and Italy. Aside from this, four Nordic countries—Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden—have promised support for Ceferin. The four countries plan on bidding to co-host the 2024 European Championship. With the decision for the host of that edition of the Euros to be made during the incoming president’s term, Ceferin and the four Nordic countries may find favour in supporting each other.