Johansson up for re-election with vow to tackle agents

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The Independent Football

Lennart Johansson, European football's most powerful figure, yesterday launched his campaign to be re-elected as president of Uefa, the European game's governing body, by promising to tackle football's murky financial dealings and toughen up regulations on agents.

Johansson, who has held the post since 1990, is standing against Michel Platini, the former France international, at the election on 26 January. The Swede, 76, said this would be his final four-year term and published a nine-page manifesto with a raft of new promises to "complete his mission".

In a veiled swipe at his opponent, who has been trying to gain the support of smaller associations by promising changes to the Champions' League, Johansson said he feels "no need to make short-term promises with a view to gaining votes". In his manifesto, Johansson also expresses his intention to rid football of "the scourge of racism"; improve corporate governance in the game; achieve better financial transparency in clubs; take more effective action on betting, match fixing and doping; put in place a new European-wide system of rules to regulate agents; support the independent European Football Review and set up a new legal framework for European football.

"There are new challenges before us which need to be recognised and met," Johansson said. "We need to achieve better financial transparency in club football and work with the relevant authorities to take even more effective action on betting, match-fixing and doping. I also want Uefa to put in place a new European-wide system of rules to regulate agents to end the abuses which have taken place in recent years."

Johansson has been a strong opponent of G14, the grouping of élite European clubs including Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United, and he insisted he would continue to ensure balance across European football. He added: "There are always pressures to destabilise what we have created and even at times to break away, protect only the richest and undermine our successful competition structure.

"I have stood firm against those pressures and worked tirelessly to protect our structures and deliver commercial success of benefit to all in a genuine spirit of partnership and solidarity."

Johansson also points out that under his leadership, the Champions' League and the European Championship have enjoyed fantastic commercial success.

He added: "I believe that I have a track record to be proud of. I stand by that record and feel no need to make short-term promises with a view to gaining votes.

"I am once again a candidate because many in the global football family have asked me to stand to ensure continuity and stability at this crucial time in the European game. I have accepted their requests because a final term of office will allow me to truly secure a legacy for the future."