UEFA presidential candidates: Aleksander Čeferin

On 24th August 2016 by Kieran

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Aleksander Čeferin is a Slovenian lawyer and the current President of the Football Association of Slovenia (NZS).

After graduating from Slovenia’s oldest university, the University of Ljubljana, he worked at his fathers law firm ‘Čeferin Law Firm’.

Despite not having played himself Čeferin had worked with various clubs and athletes through his work in law, from this along with his original interests within sport he decided to venture further into the sports industry. This began with F.C Ljubljana Lawyers, of which Čeferin became a member of the executive committee in 2005. This was followed in 2006 with him becoming a member of the Executive Comittee of newly formed club NK Olimpija Ljubljana.

NK Olimpija Ljubljana who are considered the continuation of NK Olimpija (although legally they are not) achieved promotion in four successive seasons to reach the top division whilst Čeferin was a member of the Executive committee.

He remained as a member of the executive committee for both clubs, up until his election as President of the Football Association of Slovenia on 17 February 2011, when his first term began. Following that term, he remained in office for his second four-year-term as the President of the NZS as no candidates opposed him when he ran for re-election in February 2015.

Is he the best candidate for the job?

The Slovenian has served within FIFA as a Member of FIFA Disciplinary Commission as well as in UEFA as the Vice-President of the commission for Legal Affairs. Although, this experience does not match up to that of his fellow candidates Michael van Praag and Angel Maria Villar.

In this respect, Čeferin can be seen as a newbie within the politics of European football. This can be viewed in two ways. The first of which that being that he has little experience, or the second being that he hasn’t been that he has no involvement in the various scandals occurring within both FIFA and UEFA. But despite not having as much experience within UEFA and FIFA as that of his fellow candidates, Čeferin has hinted that he has already received a significant amount of backing from a number of UEFA member associations.

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These nations are thought to include; Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia and Turkey. These were all in attendance at a regional conference in Moscow, which Čeferin also attended and is thought to have won their support in the presidential race. He has also gathered support from Italy.

However, this is not the only support that the Slovenian has received. Four Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden issued a joint statement pledging their support for Čeferin in the UEFA presidential campaign.

“We have the same interest to implement some reforms and have a common view about good governance of the European and World football” they said.

The president of the Swedish Football Association, Karl-Erik Nilsson also added that he expected “more countries would follow suit”.

The most recent of backings has came from that of the Football Association of Ireland with chief executive John Delaney expressing that Čeferin is a “very progressive and extremely innovative leader” and that if Čeferin’s candidacy were successful, it  “would be a very positive move for European football and the administration as a whole”.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Čeferin stated: “One of the main issues awaiting the next UEFA president is relations to the big clubs” going further to say that as far as he is concerned “some kind of closed super league with just a few clubs in, without the possibility for the others to enter, is out of the question.” This will mean that some kind of decision will have to be made that will of course benefit the ‘big clubs’ that are threatening to break away, although a solution to this issue is thought to have been found according to various reports with it possibly being announced as early as Friday. This solution is expected to see the top leagues receive four guaranteed places in the Champions League group stages each season.

However, this is not the only issue that the Slovenian has spoke about. In a recent interview on Slovenian television Čeferin also indicated his disproval of UEFA’s mandate system arguing that “No one can serve for twenty years. Long stay at the helm of the organisation means a loss of the compass”. This gives the impression that this will be something the Slovenian may look to change if he serves as president, however as this may not be seen as an issue that needs resolving in the eyes of others at UEFA, it may not amount to anything.

Whilst not yet having publicly spoken out about it, in the statement from the four Nordic countries it suggested that the 48-year-old will also look to establish a UEFA Compliance Committee whilst in office to “further strengthen the good governance principles within European football”.

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