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UEFA President: Aleksander Čeferin

Slovenia's Aleksander Čeferin was elected as UEFA's seventh president at the 12th Extraordinary UEFA Congress in Athens in September 2016.
Slovenia's Aleksander Čeferin was elected as UEFA's seventh president at the 12th Extraordinary UEFA Congress in Athens in September 2016. ©UEFA

 

Profile: Aleksander Čeferin

Aleksander Čeferin, a Slovenian lawyer and football administrator, was born in the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana, on 13 October 1967. Between 2011 and 2016, he was president of the Football Association of Slovenia (NZS). Mr Čeferin has served as President of European football’s governing body, UEFA, since his election on 14 September 2016.

After graduating from Ljubljana University's law faculty, Aleksander Čeferin worked for his family's law firm, developing a special interest in representing professional athletes and sports clubs. He later succeeded his father as company director.

Mr Čeferin took a formal interest in local football in 2005 through his work with the executive board of futsal club FC Litija. A member of the executive committee of amateur side FC Ljubljana Lawyers since 2005, he also served as an executive committee member at NK Olimpija Ljubljana from 2006 to 2011.

In 2011, Mr Čeferin was elected president of the Football Association of Slovenia. He also served as a second and third vice-chairman of the UEFA Legal Committee from 2011 to 2016.

Election as UEFA President

On 14 September 2016, Mr Čeferin was elected as the seventh President of UEFA at the 12th Extraordinary UEFA Congress in Athens, automatically becoming a vice-president of the world football body, FIFA. “I am looking forward to working closely with all of you in order to promote, protect and develop football across our continent,” he told delegates at the Congress, “and to ensure that the European football community is always united … now and in the future."

Safeguarding UEFA’s stability – strengthening stakeholder involvement

Mr Čeferin's presidential manifesto and campaign centred on the need for UEFA to adopt good governance reforms to ensure solid foundations for the organisation, and his proposals were approved in April 2017 by UEFA’s member associations at the 41st Ordinary UEFA Congress in Helsinki. These reforms included the introduction of term limits for UEFA presidents and UEFA Executive Committee members, and the provision that Executive Committee candidates must hold an active office (president or vice-president, as defined by an amendment to the UEFA Statutes adopted at the 44th UEFA Congress in Amsterdam) with their national association.

Other statutory changes approved at the Helsinki Congress included the strengthening of the UEFA Governance and Compliance Committee with two additional independent members, and the granting of two full member positions on the UEFA Executive Committee to representatives of the European Club Association (ECA). Subsequently, the European Leagues (previously the Association of European Professional Football Leagues – EPFL) were also granted one full member position on the UEFA Executive Committee at the 42nd Ordinary UEFA Congress in Bratislava in February 2018.

Club dialogue and consensus

Mr Čeferin has sought dialogue and consensus with European clubs and has been instrumental in the development of fruitful relations between UEFA and the ECA. Since the initial period of his presidency, he has strongly opposed the creation of any form of super league, emphasising the need to improve the competitive balance in European football and reduce the gap between elite clubs and the rest.

In April 2021, the UEFA President was instrumental in defeating the so-called breakaway European Super League, condemning the ill-fated proposal as “initiated by a group of greedy self-serving interested parties” and declaring that “football belongs to fans” and is “not for sale”.

Financial fair play

Over the years, Mr Čeferin has strengthened UEFA’s financial fair play measures, which were introduced in 2009 to bring greater stability to European club football, especially in terms of clubs’ financial management. In 2017, Europe’s 700 top-division clubs generated a ‘bottom-line’ profit figure of €615 million, compared with cumulative €7 billion in losses in 2009.

European dialogue

As part of his objective to consolidate communication and collaboration with key football stakeholders, Mr Čeferin has also worked to strengthen ties with members of the European Parliament, as well as with the Council of Europe and European Commission (EC). Under his leadership, UEFA has signed a series of cooperation and development agreements to underline its commitment in this area. In October 2021, UEFA and the EU launched a joint social responsibility campaign – Every Trick Counts –to raise public awareness of the role that individuals can play in fighting climate change.

Care for grassroots and women’s football

Investment in grassroots and women’s football has also been at the core of Mr Čeferin’s mandate. At the 2018 Ordinary UEFA Congress in Bratislava, UEFA announced its largest-ever financial support for football development projects across Europe, as well as committing to a 50% budget increase to implement UEFA’s four-year women’s football strategy, Time for Action. The UEFA President also oversaw the signing of UEFA’s first-ever sponsorship deal dedicated entirely to women’s football – with Visa – in December 2018.

In 2021, Mr Čeferin announced a doubling of the prize money for UEFA Women’s EURO 2022, underlining his belief that next summer’s final tournament in England will prove to be the biggest European Women’s Championship ever.

A second term as President

Mr Čeferin was re-elected by acclamation for a new four-year term by UEFA’s 55 member associations at the 43rd Ordinary UEFA Congress in Rome on 7 February 2019. During his acceptance speech, the UEFA President underlined his determination to ensure that “European football remains united, that European football remains respectful, respectable and respected, and that European football continues to demonstrate solidarity and bring hope.”

UEFA’s strategy for the future

In addition to governance reforms, Mr Čeferin’s presidency has been marked by his commitment to the continual forward momentum of UEFA and European football. UEFA’s overall strategy for 2019–24, unveiled in spring 2019, is designed to ensure that UEFA remains true to its core values as the governing body of European football. The strategy, which is built on five pillars – football, trust, competitiveness, prosperity and responsibility – focuses on increasing participation, improving good governance at all levels, allowing teams more opportunities to play competitive matches and enhancing engagement for football fans around the world. It calls for all football stakeholders to work together in a spirit of cooperation and togetherness – with the overall well-being of the European game always in mind.

Supporting social responsibility

Mr Čeferin is a keen advocate of social and humanitarian policies that demonstrate football’s power as a force for social good. In November 2017, he was elected chairman of the UEFA Foundation for Children – a body supporting humanitarian projects worldwide that promote and foster children’s rights through football.

Under Mr Čeferin’s presidency, UEFA has entered a new era as a ‘social fair play’ body. For example, the #EqualGame campaign has helped to focused attention on diversity, inclusion and accessibility in football.

In November 2017, the UEFA President joined the football-led charity movement Common Goal, pledging to give 1% of his salary to the organisation’s projects.

Personal honours

In 2016, Slovenian sports newspaper Ekipa Sr named Mr Čeferin as sports personality of the year following a poll of newspaper journalists and readers. SportsPro Media included Mr Ceferin on its January 2019 list of the most influential people in the sports industry. The UEFA President was also selected as one of the people of 2018 by the influential World Soccer magazine.

In September 2021, Mr Čeferin received a prestigious World Football Summit (WFS) Award as ‘2021 Best Executive’ – in recognition of “his exemplary leadership in combating the European Super League and delivering a hugely successful UEFA EURO 2020 tournament in the midst of a global pandemic”. Judges praised Mr Čeferin’s inspiring leadership at a uniquely testing time both for UEFA and the football world as a whole.  

Role

The UEFA President represents UEFA and chairs the UEFA Congress, as well as meetings of the UEFA Executive Committee. In the event of a tie in any vote, the president has the casting vote.

The UEFA president is responsible for:

  • Relations between UEFA and the world football body FIFA
  • Relations between UEFA and other continental confederations
  • Relations between UEFA and its member associations
  • Relations between UEFA and political bodies and international organisations
  • Implementing the decisions of the UEFA Congress and the UEFA Executive Committee through the UEFA administration
  • Supervising the work of the UEFA administration

In carrying out these responsibilities, the UEFA President consults with the UEFA Executive Committee. In the absence of the UEFA President, the first UEFA vice-president assumes his powers and duties.

Past Presidents

Michel Platini (France)
UEFA President from 26 January 2007 to 14 September 2016

Michel Platini was born in Joeuf in eastern France on 21 June 1955. He enjoyed a distinguished career as a player, captaining the France team that won the 1984 UEFA European Football Championship on home soil. He holds the record for the number of goals in a EURO final round, scoring nine times in the 1984 tournament. He also took part in three FIFA World Cups, in 1978, 1982 and 1986, reaching the semi-final of the latter two competitions. In 72 international appearances for France – 49 as captain – he scored 41 goals, an achievement that stood as a record for a number of years.

Michel Platini was UEFA President between 2007 and 2016
Michel Platini was UEFA President between 2007 and 2016©UEFA.com

He played for three clubs – AS Nancy-Lorraine (1973-79) and AS Saint-Étienne (1979-82) in France, and Juventus (1982-87) in Italy. In a career spanning 501 matches, he scored 265 goals, and won the Ballon d'Or for European Footballer of the Year three successive times, in 1983, 1984 and 1985. Following his retirement, he was coach of the French national team from 1988 to 1992, before embarking on a career as a football administrator, both in France and at FIFA and UEFA.

Michel Platini served as a member of the UEFA Technical Development Committee, before his election as a member of the UEFA Executive Committee in 2002. He was elected as UEFA’s sixth President at the UEFA Ordinary Congress in Dusseldorf on 26 January 2007, and was re-elected twice, in March 2011 and March 2015. He became a FIFA vice-president on his election as UEFA President.

During this period, financial fair play measures were introduced to stabilise clubs’ financial management, and UEFA reinforced the fight against match-fixing, racism and violence in stadiums. The close relationship between UEFA and its associations was nurtured, while the exchange of knowledge was fostered between associations for the overall benefit of European football. The constant development of UEFA’s club and national team competitions continued, with UEFA adhering to the belief that football should come first in all of its actions.

Mr Platini resigned from his post of UEFA President on 14 September 2016.

Lennart Johansson (Sweden)
UEFA President from 19 April 1990 to 26 January 2007

Lennart Johansson was President of UEFA for 17 years. Born on 5 November 1929 in Bromma, a suburb of Stockholm, his love of football has seen him remain loyal to his home-town club – Swedish outfit AIK Solna.

Sweden's Lennart Johansson was UEFA President for 17 years
Sweden's Lennart Johansson was UEFA President for 17 years©UEFA.com

After gaining his initial administrative experience with AIK, Mr Johansson came through the ranks in the Swedish Football Association (SvFF), and served as the association's president between 1984 and 1991. Establishing a reputation as a strong, capable leader, Mr Johansson was elected as UEFA's fifth President at UEFA's Malta Congress in 1990, and he held the position until January 2007.

During his term of office, the face of the European game changed completely, in sporting and commercial terms. UEFA itself developed from being a purely administrative body in a suburb of the Swiss federal capital Berne to a dynamic modern business enterprise based at the House of European Football in Nyon, on the banks of Lake Geneva in western Switzerland.

While Mr Johansson was at the helm, the UEFA Champions League was launched at the start of the 1990s and turned into the world's most prestigious club competition, a blue-riband sporting and commercial event bringing together the best players on the planet and followed by millions of football enthusiasts.

National-team football also flourished, with the UEFA European Championship final round growing into one of the most popular events on the world sporting calendar alongside the FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games. Mr Johansson was named Honorary UEFA President by his successor Michel Platini at the UEFA Congress in Dusseldorf in January 2007. He passed away on 4 June 2019 at the age of 89.

Jacques Georges (France)
UEFA President from 12 August 1983 to 19 April 1990

Jacques George, as first vice-president, assumed the post of UEFA President ad interim upon the tragic death of Artemio Franchi (Italy) in August 1983. He was duly elected President at the UEFA Congress in Paris in 1984.

Jacques Georges (left) with former UEFA General Secretary Hans Bangerter
Jacques Georges (left) with former UEFA General Secretary Hans Bangerter©UEFA

Born on 30 May 1916, Mr Georges enjoyed a splendid career as a football administrator which spanned more than half a century, beginning in the Vosges region of eastern France in the late 1940s. He was elected to the French Football Federation's (FFF) federal bureau in 1961, and he became responsible for the French national team as a director. In 1968, he was the ideal person to take over the role of FFF President for a first term.

Blessed with a deep understanding of the game and wider European issues, Mr Georges was elected to the UEFA Executive Committee in 1972. He played an active role in the development and modernisation of UEFA, in particular at a time of increased media coverage and heightened TV interest.

Mr Georges was UEFA President during a time for European football when EU matters were occupying a wider stage through issues such as freedom of movement, and as security considerations became of paramount importance in the wake of the Heysel disaster in Brussels in 1985.

The Frenchman helped lay the foundations for the modern-day UEFA Champions League, before stepping down in 1990 and returning to office with the FFF as the association's president, while also becoming Honorary UEFA President. He passed away in February 2004.

Artemio Franchi (Italy)
UEFA President from 15 March 1973 to 12 August 1983

Artemio Franchi was a brilliant football administrator who loved the game and enjoyed a splendid career that was cut short by a tragic road accident in Tuscany in August 1983.

Artemio Franchi was UEFA President for ten years
Artemio Franchi was UEFA President for ten years©UEFA.com

He served as UEFA President for ten years, having been elected as the third President at a UEFA Extraordinary Congress in Rome in March 1973, following the death the previous year of his predecessor Gustav Wiederkehr. Mr Franchi's first attachment to the game came as a player, and then as a referee and refereeing administrator. He became president of the ACF Fiorentina club, rose through the ranks of the Italian Football League and Italian Football Federation (FIGC), and served twice as president of the latter body – from 1967 to 1976 and from 1978 to 1980.

Mr Franchi became a UEFA committee member in 1962, and a UEFA vice-president in 1968. As president, he made a significant contribution to the modernisation of the UEFA competitions, advocating an increase in the number of final-round teams for the 1980 European Championship in Italy to eight, and overseeing the introduction of the UEFA Cup. He was tireless in his efforts to reduce violence in the game, and was acutely aware of the power that football held as a social phenomenon.

Competent, diplomatic, intelligent and charming, Mr Franchi was a man of culture who valued human contact. His sudden death was mourned by everyone within the European game. Stadiums in Florence and Siena are named after him, as was the trophy for a competition played twice, in 1985 and 1993, between the European and South American national team competition champions.

Gustav Wiederkehr (Switzerland)
UEFA President from 17 April 1962 to 7 July 1972

Gustav Wiederkehr was elected as UEFA's second president at the sixth Ordinary UEFA Congress in Sofia (Bulgaria) on 17 April 1962, succeeding Ebbe Schwartz (Denmark). He had been president of the Swiss Football Association (SFV/ASF) since 1954.

Gustav Wiederkehr was UEFA's second president
Gustav Wiederkehr was UEFA's second president©UEFA

Born on 2 October 1905, Mr Wiederkehr took over the UEFA President's post at a critical time in the organisation's development. European football was in a phase of construction and rapid expansion, as a result of the newly-created European club competitions, as well as the advent of television and improved travel across Europe.

A committed European, Mr Wiederkehr saw his role as helping to consolidate and build up Europe's prominent position within international football. An uncomplicated, but dynamic, enterprising and inventive man, he had studied economics and was on several occasions a member of the FIFA World Cup Organising Committee, and he also became a FIFA vice-president.

The UEFA President's love for the game shone through – he was a player in his youth, and also served as chairman of the Young Fellows Zürich club. Astute, an intelligent negotiator and an innovate businessman in the carpet industry, he served as President for 10 years until his sudden death in summer 1972.

Ebbe Schwartz (Denmark)
UEFA President from 22 June 1954 to 17 April 1962

Danish football administrator Ebbe Schwartz was an ideal figure as the first UEFA President. He was known as a man of great diplomacy, enjoyed an international education and came from a country with a long football history.

Denmark's Ebbe Schwartz was the first President of UEFA
Denmark's Ebbe Schwartz was the first President of UEFA©UEFA.com

Born in Copenhagen on 5 March 1901, Mr Schwartz was an expert in trade and commerce, and became a joint owner of his family engineering works and iron foundry company in 1931.

He played as a goalkeeper with AB Copenhagen, but was to make his mark as a football administrator, serving as head of the Danish football delegation when the team won the bronze medal at the London Olympic Games in 1948, and taking the position of Danish FA President in 1950 – a position he was to hold until his death in 1964.

Mr Schwartz served two four-year terms as UEFA President, before leaving the post in the spring of 1962 for a seat on the FIFA Executive Committee. He had led UEFA skilfully through its early years following the body's birth in June 1954.

Reports

2016/17 Report of the President and Executive Committee – UEFA Administration Report
2015/16 Report of the President and Executive Committee – UEFA Administration Report
2014/15 Report of the President and Executive Committee – UEFA Administration Report
2013/14 Report of the President and Executive Committee – UEFA Administration Report
2012/13 Report of the President and Executive Committee – UEFA Administration Report
2011/12 Report of the President and Executive Committee – UEFA Administration Report
2010/11 Report of the President and Executive Committee – UEFA Administration Report
2009/10 Report of the President and Executive Committee – UEFA Administration Report
2008/09 Report of the President and Executive Committee – UEFA Administration Report
2007/08 Report of the President and Executive Committee – UEFA Administration Report