Van Praag to run for UEFA presidency

The Hague (AFP) – Dutch football chief Michael van Praag announced Wednesday he will run as a candidate to replace disgraced former UEFA president Michel Platini, the first to officially throw his hat into the ring to take over the helm of European football.

“He wants to finish the remainder of Platini’s two-and-half year term and then step down to make space for a new, broadly supported chairman,” the Royal Dutch Football Federation (KNVB) said in a statement from its headquarters in central Netherlands.

“UEFA at the moment needs a bridge-builder. I want to use my experience, network and knowledge to turn it into a cohesive unit again,” Van Praag said in the statement.

Speaking from Basel where UEFA was meeting, the 68-year-old KNVB chairman said he “wanted to steer UEFA into calmer waters… and pave the way for a new president”.

“UEFA needs continuity, stability, credibility and leadership. That’s what you can expect of me.”

Last year Van Praag made an ultimately unsuccessful bid for the FIFA presidency.

Deadline for submissions for the coveted UEFA post is July 20, with Platini’s successor to be elected in Athens on September 14.

Platini is still listed as UEFA president on the body’s official website despite “resigning” from his post after a sports tribunal rejected his final appeal against his ban from football over a suspect $2.0 million payment he received from FIFA.

Spanish football chief Angel Maria Villar, who will hand out the trophies to the winners of the Europa League later Wednesday and the Champions League on May 28, is also reported to be in the running, along with Portugal FA chief Fernando Gomes.

Reports in recent days have suggested Aleksander Ceferin, the President of the Slovenia Football Federation (NZS), could also enter the race.

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