Published March 22, 2011
PARIS – Michel Platini was re-elected UEFA president unopposed Tuesday in the presence of Sepp Blatter and Mohamed bin Hammam, who hope to draw on Platini's popularity to sway their FIFA presidency race.
Plantini received a one-minute standing ovation after the UEFA Congress gave him a second four-year term leading the European soccer's governing body.
"I thought I was young enough not to have emotions, but it's not possible," said Platini, his voice breaking. "The difference this time, is I had a feeling I would win."
Platini earned a mandate by popular demand from Europe's 53 soccer nations. He defeated Swedish incumbent Lennart Johansson in 2007.
Bin Hamman said this week he's prepared to strike a deal with Platini to oust Blatter. Blatter, the president since 1998, said Tuesday his next term will be his last if he's re-elected in June.
Platini's achievements in his first term in office include opening up UEFA's marquee European Championship and Champions League competitions to more mid-ranking teams.
Euro 2016, which was awarded to France last year, will be the first with 24 teams instead of 16.
Platini also restructured the Champions League qualifying rounds to ensure more teams from smaller countries would reach the lucrative group stage.
"I hope I have shown you my ability to assume these responsibilities," Platini said in an earlier speech to delegates. "All the while keeping UEFA's good name where it belongs, close to my heart."
Platini has also driven "financial fair play" rules to curb clubs' spending on buying and paying players. He has described it as "cheating" if clubs spend beyond their means.
"This project should enable us to prevent some of our most time-honored clubs from going under because of risky management by an irresponsible few," he told delegates.
Platini outlined his plans through 2015, when the former France captain is expected to be a strong candidate for the FIFA presidency.
He pledged to step up efforts tackling the "scourges" of violence in stadiums and match-fixing linked to betting rings.
The "heart of our action," Platini said, would be "raising the status of national team football, fully implementing financial fair play, combating violence and betting fraud and putting an end to institutional discrimination."
Platini often describes himself as a soccer romantic. He used his acceptance speech to thank "these heroes of everyday life, without whom there would never be any Beckenbauers, Cruyffs, Zidanes, Messis ... without whom there would never be any moments of pleasure and of sharing.
"I am, of course, talking about the coaches, the volunteers throughout Europe ... who transmit the values to our children, who teach them throughout the most beautiful time of their lives."
Also Tuesday, Russian soccer leader Sergey Fursenko and former Bulgaria World Cup goalkeeper Borislav Mihaylov were elected to four-year terms on UEFA's executive committee.
Switzerland's Peter Gillieron was chosen as a newcomer to the 16-member ruling panel.