Football

Michel Platini is set to stand down as UEFA president on Wednesday.

Aleksander Ceferin emerges as a contender to succeed Michel Platini at UEFA

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Slovenian Football Association boss Aleksander Ceferin has emerged as a contender to replace Michel Platini as the next president of European football's governing body, UEFA.

Platini will formally step down at an extraordinary general meeting in Athens in September after the Frenchman failed to overturn his ban from all football activities at the Court of Arbitration for Sport last week.

That prompted speculation about who might replace him with the early favourites including acting general secretary Theodore Theodoridis from Greece, veteran Dutch FA boss Michael van Praag and Spanish football chief Angel Maria Villar.

But Press Association Sport has learned that 48-year-old Ceferin has already been asked by several FAs to put himself forward for what many expect to be a tight race.

It is understood that Ceferin wants to hear more details from Wednesday's meeting about the election calendar, format and likely rivals before committing to run.

A practising lawyer who has specialised in sport, Ceferin joined the board of Slovenian champions Olimpija Ljubljana in 2006 and became president of the Slovenian FA, NZS, in 2011.

Two separate sources at last week's FIFA Congress in Mexico City identified him as the most talented of the young leaders in east European football - although the ex-Yugoslav state is really a highly-developed nation that bridges east and west - and said he lacks any of the "baggage" that some of his better-known rivals possess.

This is a reference to the various bidding and corruption scandals that have beset global football in recent years.

Slovenia failed to qualify for next month's European Championships in France, after finishing behind England and Switzerland in the group stage and losing to Ukraine over two legs in the play-offs, but have been making solid progress off the field.

Earlier this month, the Slovenian FA opened its new national centre at Brdo, attracting a stellar cast to the unveiling ceremony.

"This is an amazing example of what can be done with the development programmes of UEFA and FIFA," said UEFA's Theodoridis.

"I congratulate the NZS leadership for these magnificent facilities in such a beautiful environment.

"This centre will serve as an example for many others."

New FIFA president Gianni Infantino said: "Everyone working in Slovenian football has shown what can be done if the work is professional, passionate and responsible."

UEFA has been operating without a president since Platini and former FIFA leader Sepp Blatter were sanctioned for an improper ?1.3m payment Blatter made to Platini in 2011.

A FIFA ethics panel gave both of them eight-year bans in December, before its appeal board reduced those bans to six years.

Last week, CAS reduced Platini's ban to four years - Blatter is still waiting for his appeal hearing - but said the "gentleman's agreement" the pair claimed to have breached football's rules and was a clear conflict of interest.

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