Former UEFA President and former FIFA Vice President Lennart Johansson has died after a “short illness”, Sweden’s football association said on Wednesday. He was 89.
During his 17-year at the helm of European football’s governing body from 1990 to 2007, Johannson oversaw the introduction of the Champions League, which has become one of the world’s most prestigious soccer tournaments, reports Efe news.
“During his term of office, the face of the European game changed completely, in sporting and commercial terms. UEFA itself developed from being a purely administrative body in a suburb of the Swiss federal capital Berne to a dynamic modern sport organisation”, UEFA said in a statement.
UEFA said that a moment of silence would be observed at all matches this week to mark Johansson’s passing.
“Lennart Johansson was our biggest international football leader of all time, no Swede has had a similar influence on football in the world,” Swedish Football Association president Karl-Erik Nilsson said in a statement. “He was deeply respected as UEFA president and vice president of FIFA, his leadership has aroused admiration worldwide.”
“UEFA and European football are deeply saddened by the passing of Lennart Johansson, and I would like to express my sincerest condolences to his family and loved ones, as well as to the Swedish Football Association, on their loss”, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said.
“He was a devoted lover and servant of football, who put his passion at the heart of his life. He will always be remembered as a visionary leader, and as the architect of the UEFA Champions League, and world football will be always be grateful to him for all he has achieved for the beautiful game”, Ceferin added.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino also paid tribute to Johansson, calling him 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”, Infantino said.
Johansson was born in 1929 in a suburb of Stockholm, the Swedish capital city, and began his administrative career at AIK Solna, a club with which he would maintain close ties.
Before heading UEFA, he was the president of the Swedish Professional Football Clubs’ Association from 1984 until 1991 as well as the chief of the Swedish FA from 1985 to 1990. (PTI)