The football fraternity is mourning the death of ex-UEFA president Lennart Johansson who has died at the age of 89, the Swede was UEFA President for 17 years, from 1990 to 2007.
“Lennart Johansson has died. He passed away on the evening of June 4 aged 89 after a short illness,” the Sweddish federation reported.
While Lennart Johansson was in office, the UEFA Champions League was launched at the start of the 1990s and became the world’s most prestigious club competition. UEFA itself developed from being a purely administrative body in a suburb of the Swiss federal capital Berne to a dynamic modern sport organisation based at the House of European Football in Nyon, on the banks of Lake Geneva in western Switzerland all by the efforts of Johannson.
Johansson’s long reign as the head of UEFA coincided with a transformation in the finances of football as the game became big business and saw a huge increase in TV revenue.
He was defeated in the 1998 FIFA presidential election by Sepp Blatter, losing by 111 votes to 80. In 2007, Johansson was named Honorary UEFA President at the UEFA Congress in Dusseldorf.
The current president of FIFA Giani Infantino expressed his deepest condolences at Lennart Johansson passing, “I am heartbroken by the news of the passing away of Lennart Johansson. He was a friend and an invaluable source of wisdom and inspiration. I will be forever grateful for having had him as the president of UEFA when I joined the organisation in 2000. Since then, Lennart has always been a role model of professionalism and, more importantly, of humanity.”
Johansson was an eloquent critic mostly to the works of Sepp Blatter who was forced out of office in 2015 following accusations of corruption in the awarding of the 2018 World Cup finals to Russia and the 2022 edition to Qatar.
UEFA in a statement said “As a matter of respect and to pay tribute to the great leader, a moment of silence will be observed at all UEFA Nations League, UEFA European Qualifiers and UEFA Under-21 matches taking place this week.”