UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin: milestone moments
Aleksander Čeferin, a lawyer and former President of the Football Association of Slovenia, has served as UEFA President since 2016. He was re-elected for another four-year term at the UEFA Congress in Lisbon on 5 April 2023.
At the 2019 Congress in Rome, UEFA President Alexander Čeferin unveiled a long-term strategy – Together for the Future of Football – outlining his vision for protecting and promoting the European game. The strategy has made impressive progress against each of its goals for increased participation, competitiveness, good governance, prosperity and social and environmental responsibility.
We highlight some of the main UEFA milestones that have marked the President's first seven years at the helm of European football's governing body.
Mr Čeferin's commitment to sacrifice and solidarity has safeguarded European football from two of its gravest challenges: the global pandemic and the so-called European Super League.
- When COVID-19 brought the game to a halt in 2020, UEFA moved quickly to postpone EURO 2020 so domestic leagues could complete their seasons in the summer. Development funds were advanced to associations to help them cope with the financial hit while financial fair play rules were adapted to offset impact of lost ticket sales and broadcast revenue on elite clubs.
Mr Čeferin also championed European football's return to play: first by overseeing approval of a strict medical and operational protocol, then ensuring 2019/20 UEFA club competitions were completed as a final eight, knockout tournament in less than a month. The President also recognised the important role of EURO 2020 in signalling that fans could safely return to the continent's football stadiums.
- Twelve months later, Mr Čeferin united associations, leagues, clubs and fans as well as political institutions to successfully oppose the ill-fated Super League concept. UEFA actions reinforced the European sports model, whose values – in particular, qualification based on sporting merit – lie at the heart of our competitions. In November 2021, with UEFA support, both the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union (EU) approved resolutions endorsing the model.
Mr Čeferin has consistently ensured that 97% of UEFA's total earnings are reinvested back into all levels of the football pyramid, from grassroots to elite levels.
- The President set the bar high at the 2018 Congress in Bratislava by announcing record levels of funding for the 2020–24 HatTrick programme, which reinvests EURO revenue into football development projects across the continent. This amount is set to increase by a further 21% for the 2024–28 financial cycle with almost €1 billion available to help associations invest in all aspects of the game: build stadiums and training facilities, grow women's football, run coach and referee courses, nurture young players, strengthen governance, tackle discrimination and kick-start social responsibility initiatives.
- In 2017, UEFA extended its development support beyond Europe by launching the Assist programme which shares the know-how of European football with our five sister confederations around the world, including their regional and member associations.
"European football must remain … respectful, respectable and respected."
Under the President's stewardship, UEFA continues to evolve the formats of its club and national team competitions, men's and women's, to raise standards and maximise access for every association and club.
- The introduction of the UEFA Nations League has not only replaced less meaningful friendlies with more competitive matches. It has raised the game's status in some of Europe's smaller countries and, by centralising commercial rights, increased revenue for associations to invest back in the game.
- The addition of the UEFA Europa Conference League to the club calendar has brought European football nights to more teams and countries than ever before. Some 700 clubs lined up on the starting grid of our three elite competitions in 2021.
- The largest overhaul of the UEFA Women's Champions League in 2021/22 since its inception instantly enhanced competitiveness, expanded value and elevated the status of the women's game – all critical for its long-term sustainability.
Throughout his mandate, Mr Čeferin has advocated for increased investment in women's football, backing the 2019 launch of UEFA's five-year women's football strategy, Time for Action, with a 50% increase in funding. Positive returns have included more opportunities and structures available for women and girls to enjoy football than ever before, more European associations approving their own strategies and more visibility and value for our women's competitions.
In October 2021, the President announced a doubling of prize money for UEFA Women's EURO 2022, a tournament which went on to become the biggest European Women's Championship ever. Earlier in the same year, UEFA approved a new financial distribution model for the revamped Women's Champions League that significantly increased rewards and introduced 'solidarity' payments to all top division clubs entering teams into the competition.
Mr Čeferin has built consensus through dialogue across the entire European football community, uniting associations, leagues, clubs, players, coaches, fans, agents, commercial partners and policymakers:
- Closer relations between UEFA and the European Club Association proved instrumental to evolving the format of our men's club competitions for the 2024–27 cycle. In September 2021, the President invited all our stakeholders to the first Convention on the Future of European Football to address key issues facing the game.
- Mr Čeferin has strengthened UEFA relations beyond football, in particular with the Council of Europe (CoE), the European Commission and members of the European Parliament. Both bodies proved a crucial source of support in defending the European sports model from the threat of a so-called European Super League.
- UEFA's President has also forged ever closer ties with CONMEBOL, the South American football confederation, on and off the pitch: first, by signing an extension to an existing memorandum of understanding until June 2018; then, by agreeing to a series of continental showdowns between the best European and South American national teams – men's and women's, at senior and youth level and in futsal. These kicked off in 2022 with Copa América holders Argentina's victory over reigning EURO champions Italy in the Finalissima at Wembley.
"I am looking forward to working closely with all of you to ensure that the European football community is always united … now and in the future."
Within a year of his election, Mr Čeferin honoured his presidential manifesto by securing approval at the 2017 Helsinki Congress for wide-ranging governance reforms. These included:
- Limiting the number of terms served by UEFA Presidents and Executive Committee members;
- Requiring all Executive Committee candidates to hold an active office with their national association;
- Making ethics and good governance a UEFA statutory objective.
To strengthen UEFA's collaboration with all European football stakeholders, the Executive Committee also created full member positions for two representatives of the European Club Association and, a year later, one for the European Leagues.
In 2018, UEFA laid the foundations for strengthening football governance across Europe, approving ten principles to guide its member associations' own day-to-day administration, policy-making and strategic thinking.
Throughout the President's mandate, UEFA has evolved financial fair play (FFP) measures set up in 2010 to safeguard the long-term sustainability of European football. Responding quickly to the financial impact of COVID-19 lockdowns on clubs, in April 2022, UEFA approved new Club Licensing and Financial Sustainability regulations, based on solvency, stability and cost control.
Mr Čeferin has always strived to boost football's power for social good:
- In 2022, UEFA's commitment to making football more accountable for social and environmental issues was enshrined in its first sustainability strategy. Strength Through Unity measures the governing body's progress against 11 policies using a set of targets and key performance indicators.
- In November 2017, he led by example, securing election as Chair of the UEFA Foundation for Children – an independent organisation that funds projects around the world to help vulnerable, young people. At the same time, the President joined the football-led charity movement Common Goal, pledging 1% of his salary to support the organisation's projects.