The Slovenian lawyer will replace the French football leader Michel Platini, who told the UEFA congress that he felt no guilt over an nearly two million euro payment from FIFA that has seen him suspended for four years.
“You are going to continue this wonderful mission without me”, Platini said.
Platini was elected to a third five-year-term in March last year and seemed set to take over Federation Internationale de Football Association from Blatter but was suspended in October over the payment and never returned to his office.
“Like Infantino, Ceferin has risen without trace, yet has beaten Michael van Praag of the Netherlands, whose outspoken criticism of Blatter over the past few years may be regarded as a blot on his company copybook”, she writes.
“I am certain that I committed not the slightest fault and that I will continue to fight this ban in the courts. Friends of football, farewell”, said Platini, who was first elected in 2007. I am sure that my small country, Slovenia is proud of me.
One of the finest players of his generation who went on to become a powerful sporting official, Platini was suspended over his dealings with fallen world soccer chief Sepp Blatter during the scandal which shook the sport’s global governing body previous year.
Ceferin, who has been head of the Slovenian football federation only since 2011, added: “We are all exhausted of the current situation and look forward to a normalisation period that will be about positive things, about friendship, about football”.
Platini was banned from all football-related activity last year in relation to a $2 million disloyal payment from Blatter in 2011, with his initial ban reduced from six to four years.
“There isn’t one football for large nations and one for small nations, there is a single football, a single sport, it doesn’t belong to FIFA or UEFA, it belongs to the whole world”, he said.
Platini told the candidates that “football is a game before a product, a sport before a market, a show before a market”.
He added that the “wind of change” was blowing through European football.
Ceferin, who is not a member of UEFA’s executive committee, was little known outside his own country until he announced his intention to run in June.
“Aleksander and I have the same goal”, he said.
The Slovenian lawyer said he will look at the controversial deal that will give more Champions League revenue to Europe’s biggest clubs.
The father-of-three, who spoke fluent English throughout, has not provided too many policy details so far but did say he wants to bring in term limits for presidents, clear out all executive committee members who are no longer active in their associations and set up a compliance committee.
Uefa insiders said his success in winning them over was partly down to dissatisfaction with the other two candidates in the race – Van Praag and the controversial Spanish FA chief, Ángel María Villar Llona, who withdrew this month – but also because he caught a prevailing mood. It’s a great honour but at the same time great responsibility. “He wanted to do it his way and I wanted to do it my way and today democracy has spoken”.