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Artemio Franchi elected UEFA President

Forty years ago

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ARTEMIO FRANCHI ELECTED UEFA PRESIDENT
On 15 march 1973, delegates from 32 of the 33 national associations that were affiliated to UEFA at the time gathered in Rome at an Extraordinary UEFA Congress, the fifth of its kind. Albania was the only member association not represented. The main purpose of this meeting, held in the Italian capital to mark the 75th anniversary of the Italian Football Federation, was to elect a new UEFA president for the remaining 14 months of the term of Gustav Wiederkehr from Switzer- land, who had died suddenly on 7 July 1972 during his third term as president. In accordance with the UEFA Statutes of the time, the most senior UEFA vice-president, Hun- garian Sándor Barcs, who had been a vice-presi- dent since 1962, became caretaker president until the congress in Rome. Four candidates Four men had initially put their names for- ward for the presidential election, although Dutchman Jos. Coler withdrew before the vote and the electors had to choose between Sándor Barcs, Italian Artemio Franchi, a UEFA vice-presi- dent since 1968, and Englishman Denis Follows. One round of voting was enough for Artemio Franchi, with 21 votes, to become the third UEFA president, following in the footsteps of Ebbe Schwartz and Gustav Wiederkehr. The vacant seat on the Executive Committee was filled by the only candidate, Switzerland’s Lucien Schmidlin. Strong position After his election, Artemio Franchi thanked the UEFA Congress. He said that his term would barely be long enough to draw up a programme. “We have been shown the way. Now we must follow it and reinforce UEFA ’ s structures,“ he said, adding that, although the UEFA competitions were already very well organised and UEFA itself was in a strong position, there was still a lot to do to consolidate what had already been achieved and to create true unity in European football. Tragic accident Confirmed as president by acclamation at the Ordinary UEFA Congress in Edinburgh in May 1974, Artemio Franchi remained at the UEFA helm for ten years, until a car accident in Tuscany on 12 August 1983 tragically brought his life and bril- liant career in sports administration to an end. His successor as president, first vice-president Jacques Georges (France), paid the following tribute to him in the UEFA Bulletin: “ [...] a man of his stature cannot leave us without having formed a deep and lasting imprint on our mem- ories. Let us bear in mind the example he has set us [...]. The scale of the work he accomplished within UEFA is most clearly reflected in the form of its competitions; each and every one of the UEFA events today bears his mark. “[...] He always wanted football to be a good game, a fair and honest sport, and for years he fought to overcome the violence pervading the game, and to preserve football as a sport for true sportsmen who had no intention of doing each other harm. [...] and he also knew that the only language capable of truly overcoming all sorts of barriers and frontiers was the language of sport. “

 

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