BASEL, SWITZERLAND —
UEFA will elect a new president on September 14, with former FIFA candidate Michael van Praag first to declare plans to replace Michel Platini in a contest likely to have several contenders.
Van Praag, the Dutch soccer leader, “expressed his intention” to enter the contest during an executive committee meeting Wednesday, UEFA interim general secretary Theodore Theodoridis said.
The 67-year-old Van Praag was expected to seek the job after raising his profile in 2014 as a leading European critic of Sepp Blatter, and as a candidate against the then-FIFA president last year.
Other officials interested in the UEFA race include FIFA vice president Angel Maria Villar of Spain and Slovenian federation president Aleksander Ceferin.
Van Praag, the former Ajax president, withdrew from the FIFA contest ahead of the vote last May, has declined to speak with reporters in Basel this week on the sidelines of the Europa League final.
In a statement released by the Dutch federation, Van Praag said he wanted to “pave the way for a new, younger president.”
“UEFA needs a bridge builder at the moment. I want to use my experience, network and knowledge in the coming two-and-a-half years to make UEFA a close union again,” said Van Praag, who would be barred by UEFA age limit rules from re-election in March 2019.
The new president will complete the suspended Platini's existing term and become a FIFA vice president.
The 55 national federations in UEFA will vote at an extraordinary congress in Athens, Greece, said Theodoridis, who acknowledged he might be a contender by the July 20 deadline.
“In my life I learned never to say never, but it is not my priority and there are plenty of people there,” said the Greek official, who was promoted to the role of his former boss Gianni Infantino.
Infantino, now the FIFA president, used the UEFA general secretary job to rise to higher office in February after Platini's bid was wrecked by revelations he accepted a $2 million FIFA payment approved by Blatter in 2011.
The UEFA race is expected to take shape during the June 10-July 10 European Championship in Platini's native France.
Theodoridis said the UEFA ruling committee declined an option to call a post-Euro 2016 election in July, wanting to give entrants time to prepare a program.
“It is not always easy to have a proper [campaign], especially if you have a lot of candidates,” he said.
UEFA has been without a president since Platini was suspended by the FIFA ethics committee in October, then banned for eight years. The Court of Arbitration for Sport imposed a reduced four-year ban on Platini this month.
With Platini barred from official duty, Villar will present the trophy at competition finals including Euro 2016 as UEFA's senior vice president.
Platini's right to attend matches in France as a guest of UEFA is still unclear despite FIFA being asked to explain the exact terms of his sanction.
“For us, the answers we have received are not that clear,” Theodoridis said. “We are seeking further clarification. We don't want to violate any FIFA rule.”
After his CAS hearing in Lausanne, Platini told reporters he planned to attend many of the 51 Euro 2016 matches.
When France last hosted in 1984, Platini captained the team to the title and scored a competition record nine goals.