Tuesday 6 December 2016

Pictured: A jubilant looking John Delaney embraces new UEFA president in Athens

Harry Clarke

Published 14/09/2016 | 10:11

UEFA's newly elected President, Slovenian Aleksander Ceferin (C) is congratulated by John Delaney
UEFA's newly elected President, Slovenian Aleksander Ceferin (C) is congratulated by John Delaney
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin

FAI CEO John Delaney was present in Athens today to extend a warm congratulations to new UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.

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My Delaney, who has been keeping a low profile since police in Rio revealed they wanted to speak to him in relation to the Rio ticketing scandal, was in Greece representing the FAI as Ceferin defeated rival Michael van Praag in the race for Michel Platini's old job.

Last month, Delaney publicly backed Ceferin to lead UEFA.

"I have seen first hand the great work that Aleksander has done for football and we have been very impressed with him so far," said Delaney.

UEFA's newly elected President, Slovenian Aleksander Ceferin is congratulated by John Delaney
UEFA's newly elected President, Slovenian Aleksander Ceferin is congratulated by John Delaney

"I believe that he has all the attributes to bring and create the perfect balance to bring UEFA forward.

"He has been a very progressive and extremely innovative leader in his native Slovenia and his successful candidacy would be a very positive move for European football and the administration as a whole."

Ceferin, a 48-year-old lawyer, almost unheard of outside his own country at the start of the campaign, beat his Dutch rival Michael van Praag by 42 votes to 13, with no abstentions.

Ceferin will now complete the remaining two-and-a-half years of former president Michel Platini's term, after the Frenchman was banned from all football activities in December.

"Dear friends, thank you for your fantastic support," Ceferin said after the result was announced.

"It's a great honour, but also a great responsibility. It means a lot to me and my family is very proud, and my small and beautiful Slovenia is very proud about it. I hope one day you will also be proud of me."

Van Praag also addressed the congress after the result was announced, and pledged to support Ceferin.

"Losing is not nice, but I have to thank everyone for the open and clear campaign," he said.

"The way I was received was very nice and I really cherish the nice talks, the intensive talks I had with various colleagues.

"It was in Italy that Aleksander took the floor and said, 'We are not enemies', and that is exactly how it is. We have the same goals, look at our programmes.

"We want a different UEFA, a better UEFA, he wants to do it his way and I wanted to do it my way.

"But today democracy has spoken and I respect that. I would like to thank the countries that supported me from the beginning to the end and I call on them to stand behind Aleksander. I will do the same. It is up to him, but if he wishes my assistance I am always there."

Additional reporting by PA

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