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By ESPN Staff

Red-letter day beckons for Platini and Beckenbauer

LONDON, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Michel Platini of France and Franz Beckenbauer of Germany, two of the greatest players in soccer's history, could be elected to positions of high office at the UEFA Congress in Duesseldorf on Friday.

Platini, 51, who led France to victory in the 1984 European Championship, could become the new president of UEFA, European soccer's governing body.

Beckenbauer, 61, who captained and then coached West Germany to victory in the 1974 and 1990 World Cup, is set to win a place on the executive committee of world governing body FIFA.

Platini is standing against the incumbent Lennart Johansson, 77, in a two-horse race for the UEFA presidency, a position the Swede has held since 1990.

Beckenbauer, technically at least, faces a vote against Spaniard Angel Maria Villar Llona for the UEFA seat vacated by German compatriot Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder on the FIFA executive committee.

Villar Llona is also standing unopposed for re-election as a FIFA vice-president and, barring any last-minute technicalities, should take that position, which he currently occupies.

That would leave the way clear for Beckenbauer to take Mayer-Vorfelder's seat on the FIFA executive committee.

It would be a significant development in the game's governance if both former greats were called to positions of high office on the same day, but Platini's prospects are less certain than Beckenbauer's before the election.

For if Platini loses the vote to Johansson, his immediate involvement with UEFA will end as he is not standing for re-election to the executive committee following the end of his four-year term of office.

The Frenchman will, however, remain a member of the FIFA executive committee for at least another two years and could therefore serve with Beckenbauer on that body.

While the presidential vote is the main item on the Congress agenda, elections are also being held for six positions that have become vacant on the executive committee.

Delegates will also vote for three of UEFA's representatives on the FIFA executive committee.

David Will of Scotland is retiring as a FIFA vice-president representing the British associations on the FIFA executive and his replacement will be decided by a meeting of the four British associations on Feb. 5.

Congress will also discuss a number of changes to the UEFA statutes and is expected to approve a proposal from the Scottish FA to open a feasibility study into expanding the European Championship finals from 16 to 24 teams.

It is also expected to admit Montenegro as the 53rd member of UEFA, although Gibraltar's application might not be approved.