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By ESPN Staff
Jan 24, 2007

UEFA presidency rivals both claiming victory

Both candidates in tomorrow's elections for the UEFA presidency claim they have secured enough support to win the contest.

Incumbent Lennart Johansson's backers insist 36 of the 52 associations have committed to the 77-year-old Swede.

But those close to challenger Michel Platini claim a majority of the votes have been promised to the 51-year-old Frenchman.

The momentum does appear to have swung towards Platini, however, and Johansson will need to call in some big favours in the last 24 hours before the vote if he is to succeed.

Johansson generally has support among the bigger footballing countries but in this election San Marino's vote carries as much weight as Italy's and there are more small associations than large ones.

The four home nations are among those keeping their vote private rather than risk being seen to back the loser, but it is believed Platini has the edge here as well, with Northern Ireland and Wales backing him and Scotland remaining faithful to Johansson.

The Football Association are also thought to be leaning towards Platini despite his promise to limit the Champions League to three clubs from any one country.

FA chairman Geoff Thompson is a friend of the France legend and, though he may come under pressure from top-flight clubs to back Johansson, he could argue that he would be in a better position to influence Platini over the Champions League if he is seen as an ally.

Johansson's age continues to be a factor among some associations - particularly as UEFA have a rule stating committee members must now retire once they reach 70.

One national association president told PA Sport: 'Denmark have publicly declared for Platini because they are unhappy their officials have had to retire from UEFA committees when they reach 70, yet a 77-year-old is standing for president, and other national associations feel the same way.'

However, other senior football figures reckon the vote will be too close to call.

Another leading association member said: 'I have one person tell me Platini is in front and another that the tide is turning back to Johansson.'