Three-way fight for Uefa presidency

Dutchman Michael van Praag, Spaniard Angel Maria Villar and Slovenian Aleksander Ceferin will contest the presidency of Uefa in September, European football's governing body confirmed yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Uefa said the trio, all heads of their country's respective football federations, were the only candidates to have submitted their bids by Wednesday's deadline for the election in Athens on Sept 14.

The election has been called to find a replacement for Frenchman Michel Platini, who has been banned for four years for ethics violations.

Platini was banned, along with former Fifa president Sepp Blatter, over payment of 2 million Swiss francs ($2.75m) made to the Frenchman by Fifa with Blatter's approval in 2011 for work done a decade earlier.

He has denied wrongdoing.

The eventual winner will have to urgently address the issue of the Champions League, Uefa's flagship competition.

The possibility of a so-called Super League for elite clubs, or a mechanism which guarantees big clubs a captive place in the Champions League, has been discussed at private meetings, sources with knowledge of the matter have said.

Uefa needs to finalise the format of all its club competitions for the 2018-2021 
cycle by the end of this year.

Van Praag acknowledged when announcing his candidacy that Uefa has fallen into an impasse in Platini's absence and needs to tackle the Super League threat.

Villar, who has headed the Spanish federation since 1988 and been re-elected seven times, announced his bid on Tuesday.

Ceferin says he has the backing of 13 Eastern European federations, four from the Nordic countries, plus Italy.

His rivals have not made any comments about their support.

Platini was Uefa president from 2007 to 2015 and the winner will complete his mandate which runs until 2019.

The candidates will have to complete an integrity check, conducted by football's governing body Fifa, Uefa added.

- Reuters.