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Sweden's Johansson loses UEFA vote

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14:03 CET+01:00
French football legend Michel Platini won the vote for the presidency of UEFA here on Friday ousting long-time incumbent Lennart Johansson of Sweden with a call for reform.

The campaign for the UEFA top job had turned increasingly bitter with the 77-year-old Johansson, president since 1990, campaigning as the candidate of continuity and the challenger Platini advocating reform.

The Frenchman notably said he was in favour of limiting Europe's big guns like Spain, Italy and England to just three teams in the prestigious Champions League instead of the current four as a way of boosting representation from smaller countries.

He won support from Sepp Blatter, the president of world governing body FIFA, and an old rival of Johansson, but Germany's influential Franz Beckenbauer came out strongly in favour of the Swede.

Beckenbauer conceded after the vote: "We have to respect the result of the vote. We (Germans) made our choice widely known, but life goes on.

"We hope to work constructively with Michel Platini."

For Johansson, the vote will be a massive blow for an official who oversaw huge developments in European football during his 16 years at the top, but who had been criticised for losing touch with the grass roots of the sport.

The Swede was given a standing ovation by the UEFA members and named as an

honorary president of the organisation, but he had some angry words to say against Blatter, against whom he lost the FIFA presidency in 1998.

"I thank Joseph Blatter for praising our work, but I can't appreciate the way the FIFA president interfered in the UEFA election," he said before the vote had been announced.

"It is not up to the president of FIFA to decide, it is up to the UEFA congress."

Platini is widely revered in France and throughout Europe playing 72 times for his country, 50 as captain, and scoring a national record which still stands of 41 goals.

The 51-year-old won a secret-ballot vote of the 52 UEFA member associations by 27-23 and will head European football's governing body for at least the next four years.

"I am very emotionally moved but so happy," said Platini after the vote result had been announced.

"When I was a footballer after a victory we got the cup and did a lap of honour with our team-mates.

"Today it's a great triumph for me, but I won't be doing any lap of honour. I am just happy to be representing European football. It is the start of a great adventure."

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