Thu, Jan 25, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Beckenbauer focuses on battle for UEFA presidency

DPA , FRANKFURT, GERMANY

German soccer supremo Franz Beckenbauer is worried about what tomorrow's election for the UEFA presidency could mean for the organization.

Beckenbauer, who is expected to be elected as an UEFA representative on the executive of soccer's controlling body FIFA, said that he was less interested in his own election than in the battle between incumbent Lennart Johansson and challenger Michel Platini to become UEFA president.

"I am not that important. What I am thinking about it the presidential elections. Will the elections result in a split or will people come together afterwards again," he told journalists in Frankfurt on Tuesday.

Beckenbauer, who won the World Cup as a player and a coach and headed the German World Cup organizing committee, once again explained why Germany was casting its vote for Johansson.

"European football has never been better than it has been under Johansson. He is above reproach and heads UEFA elegantly and well," the 61-year-old said.

He does not expect a Platini success to have a negative impact for German soccer.

"We have always played with open cards," he said.

He added however that he could not rule out a dirty fight between supporters of the two sides afterwards, a scenario the president of the German football association (DFB) Theo Zwanziger had also warned against.

Beckenbauer said he was not quite sure what he would be doing as a FIFA executive member.

"There are a number of commissions and I am sure some of them have free places. I would like to do something in the area of social responsibility. Africa is something that is close to my heard. Football is incredibly powerful, one can achieve a lot through the sport," Beckenbauer said.

"Football even manages to bring enemies around one table. We are all servants of football and if I could contribute something towards that, I would be very happy," said Beckenbauer, who is still taken by the impressions he gained during his World Cup Welcome Tour when he traveled to all 31 qualifiers.

Beckenbauer said he was keen to see the 6+5 rule implemented, which stipulated that only five foreigners can play at any given time.

Beckenbauer said that he would stand for the post of DFB vice-president on Oct. 26, as his mandate as a member of the DFB executive had lapsed at the end of the World Cup.

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