Lennart Johasson (1920 - )
The Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo in
Profile of Lennart Johasson
Lennart Johansson was born on 5 November 1920 in Stockholm, Sweden.
A lover of the “beautiful game”, Johansson started his career in football administration in 1962 with Alk Solna (a Swedish Football Club) where he stayed until 1984, when he began to serve the European Football Association (UEFA).
Under his leadership he managed to build UEFA into the strongest confederation in the world, responsible for the Euro finals, the Champions League as well as the European Cup, universally regarded as the most attractive continental competition in the world.
In addition, Johansson has served as vice-president of FIFA for the past 14 years. As chairperson of both the Organising Committee of the World Cup as well as the World Cup Bureau, in Italy in 1990, the USA in 1994, France in 1998, Korea-Japan in 2002, Germany in 2006 and – soon to be – South Africa in 2010, he has been instrumental in transforming the World Cup Soccer Competition into the biggest sporting event on earth. Moreover, Johansson has over the years gained a reputation for his unquestionable pedigree in the knowledge of the game. He personifies all the fundamental values of sport such as honesty, transparency, trustworthiness and integrity.
Shortly after South Africa’s failed bid to host the 2006 World Cup, he publicly expressed his support for South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup. He furthermore undertook to persuade as many other administrators as possible of South Africa’s worthiness and preparedness. When he was later reminded that South Africa did not support him in his bid for FIFA chairmanship, and may have contributed to his defeat, he was not dissuaded from his word.
No doubt Johansson’s understanding of South Africa’s struggle against racism and apartheid, and his own country’s historical support for the struggle and the importance for South Africa and Africa’s development of hosting the World Cup soccer competition were uppermost in his mind during the decisive moments of voting for the winning bidder.
Lennart Johansson’s highly principled and exemplary leadership has withstood the severest test, and he has not been found wanting. This fair minded sportsman and administrator who refused to compromise even at his own expense, has stood up for honesty and justice in sport. He is honoured as a true friend of South Africa and Africa. He remains an inspiration to football players, administrators and the masses of supporters throughout the world.