Milan Služanič, the first president of the Slovak Football Association (SFZ) in its modern independent history, has passed away at the age of 83.
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The native of Dúbravka, Bratislava, played a key role in the integration of the SFZ within UEFA when the newly independent national association became a member of European football’s governing body in 1993, following the separation of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia on 1 January of that year.
A keen footballer until a serious injury ended his career at the age of 24, after which he changed to volleyball, rowing, long-distance swimming and road running, Milan Služanič initially played an important part in the affairs of Czechoslovakia's national football association, while also serving as chairman of Slovakia’s federal association from 1988.
In November 1992, the creation was confirmed of two separate national football associations in what would shortly become the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Služanič was appointed to take the helm of the Slovak association.
Key role in UEFA membership
Služanič contributed crucially to the admission of the SFZ as a member of UEFA, as well as of the world body FIFA in 1994. Stepping down as SFZ president in 1998, he was a pivotal figure who laid the foundations on which Slovak football stands to this day.
He was also instrumental in an initiative that led to FIFA officially confirming the date of the establishment of the Slovak Football Association as 4 November 1938. The association was founded on that day and originally became a member of FIFA in 1939, but disbanded after the Second World War owing to the merger of the Czech and Slovak football competitions.
In his later years, Milan Služanič was a member of the honorary board of the Hall of Fame of Slovak Football, before becoming a laureate of the hall in 2019. “A great emptiness and sadness will remain in the hearts and souls of hundreds of people,” said the SFZ. “The Slovak Football Association expresses its deepest condolences to the family and loved ones.”