By Brian Homewood
ZURICH (Reuters) – Slovenian football boss Aleksandar Ceferin launched what appeared to be a strong bid for the presidency of UEFA on Wednesday, claiming to have support from almost one-third of the European soccer body’s member associations.
The Slovenian football association, in announcing its president’s intention to stand, listed 18 European FAs out of a total of 55 that it said were prepared to support him.
Ceferin joins Dutchman Michael van Praag as a candidate for the Sept. 14 election to replace Frenchman Michael Platini, banned for four years by FIFA for ethics violations.
The statement said that Ceferin had the backing of the federations of Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Cyprus, Macedonia, Montenegro, Russia, Romania, Serbia and Turkey, plus Slovenia, at a meeting in Russia on Wednesday.
Italy would also support him, the statement said, as would and the four Nordic countries Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, which issued a joint statement.
“We share the same strong values related to the future of European football,” they said. “We have the same interest to implement some reforms and have common view about good governance of the European and world football.”
The Slovenian FA did not say what policies Ceferin would proposed and said he would make a personal address in the coming days.
Platini was banned, along with former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, over payment of 2 million Swiss francs (£1.4 million) made to the Frenchman by FIFA with Blatter’s approval in 2011 for work done a decade earlier.
Platini’s reign at UEFA saw the biggest clubs from the Spanish, English and German leagues become increasingly dominant in European club competition and a widening of the gap between them and teams from other countries.
Critics said that model for distributing revenue from European club competitions has favored elite teams such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Paris St Germain.
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, have been discussed at private meetings, sources with knowledge of the matter have said.
Van Praag has acknowledged that UEFA has fallen into an impasse in Platini’s absence and needs to tackle the Super League threat.
The Nordic FAs said in their statement: “UEFA is very important for development of our sport and with this proposal we are looking forward to continue solidarity and balance between different stakeholders and levels of football in Europe.”
(Additional reporting by Zoran Milosavljevic in Belgrade; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)