Spain's Villar withdraws bid for UEFA top job

Angel Maria Villar's surprise defection leaves just two candidates for UEFA's top job - Aleksander Ceferin of Slovenia and Dutchman Michael van Praag.

Angel Maria Villar has headed up Spain's association since 1988.   -  Reuters

Angel Maria Villar, the head of Spain's football association, announced Tuesday he had withdrawn his bid to replace the banned Michel Platini as president of UEFA.

His surprise defection leaves just two candidates for European football's top job - Aleksander Ceferin of Slovenia and Dutchman Michael van Praag.

"After a profound reflection I have decided to withdraw my bid," Villar said in a statement posted on the website of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

"There have been many representatives of Spanish football who have made their voices heard and asked me to continue working for my country's football by submitting a new bid in the next months for my reelection as President of RFEF."

The election for the coveted post will be held at the UEFA Congress in Athens on September 14.

The two remaining candidates are bidding to succeed Platini after the Frenchman, in the post since 2007, was banned from all football-related activities by FIFA for four years for ethics violations.

Villar has headed up Spain's association since 1988.

The 66-year-old former international midfielder has also run UEFA on an interim basis since Platini resigned, and he handed over the trophy to Portugal at Euro 2016.