Swede wants to continue leading European football

The president of European football's governing body UEFA, Lennart Johansson, announced in Berlin on Tuesday that he would seek a renewed mandate next year.

The Swede faces a strong challenge from iconic Frenchman Michel Platini while World Cup 2006 chief organiser Franz Beckenbauer now seems unlikely to put his name forward.

The Kaiser has long indicated he was interested in the job but would not go up against Johansson if the latter decided to run again.

“I feel I still have the necessary energy and engagement for a new mandate,” Johannson, 76, said after a meeting of the UEFA executive committee.

After 16 years in the role, the president had hinted that he was ready to stand aside.

But he said that during the World Cup in Germany that FIFA president Sepp Blatter and the presidents of the other football confederations, except Oceania, had requested he stay on.

“Mr Blatter stressed the importance of continuity and a stable presidency and has asked me to remain,” Johansson said.

Tackling corruption and illegal betting, and helping smaller clubs would be the foundations of his campaign for the election in Dusseldorf on February 7 next year, he added.

Platini, 50, considered one of the world’s greatest players and a UEFA executive member since 2002, announced his candidature last year, saying he intended to “defend the game and its values.”

“This doesn’t change my motivation or my determination and it’s up to the national associations to decide if they want to vote for someone of the future or someone from the past,” Platini said on Tuesday.

But Johannson suggested his rival would struggle to muster the votes or manage the 52 UEFA associations and pointed out he had been unanimously re-elected each time.

“It’s a kick in the pants. Michel Platini has somewhat of a reputation in France and in Italy but in other countries a player who stopped football 25 years ago isn’t that well-known,” he said.