Aleksander Ceferin, the unknown lawyer who became king of European football with suspicious speed

Aleksander Ceferin, UEFA President

The UEFA has managed to deactivate or, at least, tie the project of the Super league in just a few days. In the absence of knowing the possible consequences of this rebellion by 12 of the most powerful clubs on the continent, it can be considered that Aleksander ceferin has proclaimed himself the victor of the war or, at least, of the first great attack of his rivals, with Florentino PĂ©rez to the head.

For many soccer fans, the figure of this Slovenian lawyer age 53 was relatively unknown until now. That has been his tonic forever: low profile, low fuss, and suspiciously effective decisions, especially since he entered the world of football.

Unlike its predecessor, Michel Platini, Ceferin was not a footballer beyond doing it in his spare time. From a very young age he focused on backstage of sport at his family’s law firm, one of the largest in his country, and who made money from the 10 day war in which Slovenia gained its independence. From very early on, focused on sports representation and consulting, when the father and founder of the Ceferin law firm retired, his sons Aleksander and Rok (the eldest) became directors.

In 2005, the youngest of the family joined the board of the FC Litija futsal and the following year in the NK Olimpija Ljubljana, which had been refounded and dropped to the fifth division of Slovenia. In five years they chained five consecutive promotions.

With the team already in First Division, Ceferin appeared at the Slovenian Football Federation elections in 2011 and won them, parallel to his entry into the UEFA legal committee. He soon entered the inner circle of Platini and they became very close collaborators, until the corruption scandal that the mandate of the former French footballer was carried away. Ceferin immediately unchecked himself and ran for election, basing his campaign on promising cleanliness in the body, despite having himself counseled the disgraced Platini. He won in the elections to Michael van Praag (considered the continuation candidate) by 42 votes to 13.

In just ten years, Ceferin had passed from being a junior manager of a fifth division team to UEFA president and his figure represented the renewal that many asked for. This move was viewed with suspicion by the FIFA, always in battle with the European body for the control of powers – and especially income – in football.

The tensions between the FIFA-dependent competitions of Gianni Infantino and their calendars, the entry of the VAR (UEFA tried to stop it until the last moments and, in fact, it started earlier in the national leagues than in the Champions and the Europa League) have been constant in his time as president.

He allied with several team presidents, such as his former ex-friend Andrea Agnelli, and tried to turn the ECA (the Association of European Clubs) into a battering ram against the excesses of FIFA and the matches of the national teams. The unequal economic distribution of the Champions League, among other issues, and especially the crisis derived from the pandemic ended up facing them, which is behind (in part) the attempted Super league.

Beyond his contribution to football, Ceferin has made sure that his position is a success for him and his bank account: last year he charged 860,000 francs more than when he arrived.

Every year since he took office, his salary has risen: in his first year (2016/2017) he won 1.56 million of Swiss francs and kept it to the next one, but in the 2018/2019 campaign it was raised to 1.92 million (+360,000). In 2019/2020, despite being the year of the pandemic, it reached the 2.42 million: in the midst of the crisis of coronavirus the salary was raised by 450,000 francs. This figure is expected to fall for this 2020/2021 campaign given that in May of last year they approved a 20% reduction in the salaries of the senior managers of the European federation.

Leave a Reply