The Former UEFA President Lennart Johansson has died at the age of 89 after a short illness Sweden’s Football Association reports.
The Swede who presided over European football from 1990 to 2007, and he is most recognised for founding the Champions League in 1992 , 17 years as its new Champions League turned into a global commercial juggernaut, known as the European Cup.
His reign saw huge revenue streams flow into the continent’s big clubs, turning Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and others into multi-billion dollar enterprises, and their players into global megastars.
He ran against Swiss Sepp Blatter to head football’s world governing body FIFA in an acrimonious vote in 1998 but lost.
Johansson was elected as UEFA’s fifth president, and he oversaw the organisation’s rise in prominence from being an administrative body to a modern sport organisation, based in Nyon, Switzerland.
Johansson also served as FIFA vice-president, but he lost a presidency contest to Sepp Blatter in 1998. He was also president of the Swedish FA from 1984 to 1991, and he had close ties with the AIK Solna club.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: “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.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino led the tributes to Johansson.
“I am heartbroken by the news of the passing away of Lennart Johansson,” Infantino said, in a statement on the FIFA website.
“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.”
Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter posted a tribute to Johansson on Twitter, which read: “With Lennart Johansson we lose a real heavyweight in football.
With Lennart Johansson we lose a real heavyweight in football. We were allies, opponents – even rivals. But in all situations there has been respect and fair play. Thank you for your dedication to our game and to your family. R.I.P. #Uefa #Fifa #Svenska Fotbollförbundet
— Joseph S Blatter (@SeppBlatter) June 5, 2019