UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin was handed a new four – year term on Thursday and promised a bright future despite the “complex challenges ” ahead for European football’ s governing body.
The 51 – year – old Slovenian lawyer was the only candidate going forward for election at the UEFA Congress in Rome and was voted in by acclamation .
His election was in contrast to the situation when he took over two and a half years ago , with football in turmoil amid a corruption scandal that toppled his predecessor Michel Platini.
Ceferin told UEFA ’ s 55 member associations who elected him unopposed that “ with unity restored” he was taking over with “ fewer doubts and less scepticism than back then” .
“ So , what’ s going to happen now ? That is the question many people were asking when I was elected two and a half years ago, ” said Ceferin .
“ At that time , football , at both world and European levels , was being rocked by the most serious governance crisis in its history and yet you decided to entrust the keys to the UEFA house to a virtual unknown . ”
Having previously been largely charged with putting in place measures voted for under the previous regime of Platini and current FIFA president Gianni Infantino , Ceferin can now hope to really make his mark and implement his own changes .
“ We are going to have to think ahead and undertake some major developments, ” he added .
On top of his agenda , for now , is a battle with Infantino , who as FIFA president has been promoting a new , expanded Club World Cup and global Nations League . Ceferin is opposed to the projects .
“ We must not allow our recent, short – term successes to hide the much more complex challenges that lie ahead , ” Ceferin warned .
“The most dangerous thing we can do is rest on our laurels and bask in our current situation. ”
Ceferin promised to work closely with world football ’ s governing body and is also hoping to bring the 2030 World Cup back to Europe .
“ With our unity restored, we will be a source of constructive ideas for FIFA , rather than one of opposition. And we expect the same attitude from FIFA , ” he said .
– ‘ Lost time ’ –
Infantino was present in Rome and also extended an olive branch to his European counterpart .
“ We must be innovative . We must continue to develop . It can only be done if we work together if we discuss if we debate, ” he said .
“ Let’ s try to find what we have to do together to make up for lost time . ”
Previously the head of the Slovenian Football Federation , Ceferin ’ s presidency so far has been less charismatic in his approach than that of Platini.
The Frenchman is still suspended until October this year when he will complete a four – year ban from all football-related activities following the corruption scandal that also brought down then- FIFA chief Sepp Blatter .
“ When crisis hits , it is not the time to suddenly forsake everything that has gone before . I am not the president of a ‘ new UEFA ’ . I am the president of UEFA , a UEFA that can be proud of its past and confident about the future , ” said Ceferin .
He also defended his record since taking over with his most notable achievement being the introduction of term limits for UEFA presidents , to a maximum of three four – year stints.
“ Limited terms of office , the publication of salaries , the creation of a Compensation Committee and the inclusion of independent members in a reinforced Governance and Compliance Committee are just a few of the common – sense reforms we have introduced ,
” he said .
“ This is only the start . We will be doing more in this area because there remain weaknesses in our system . ”