UEFA President engages students at Oxford University

Governance reforms, women's football and the fight against discrimination were just some of the topics tackled by UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin in a Q&A event at Oxford University.

©David Fisher, Fisher Studios Ltd.

"What is the future of the UEFA Champions League?" "What is UEFA doing to tackle discrimination?" "How successful do you think the Nations League was?" and even "Are lawyers the best people to manage reputation?".

As UEFA President, Aleksander Čeferin is used to answering questions from the media. But this time they were coming from students as Mr Čeferin was invited to take part in the distinguished speaker series at the Saïd Business School at Oxford University.

The President participated in the Q&A entitled Rebuilding the Reputation of International Football before taking questions from the floor. He spoke about his early days at UEFA after election in September 2016, saying: "I started with governance reforms. I wanted to establish term limits – they are good for me and for the organisation."

The UEFA president took time to talk to students after the debate
The UEFA president took time to talk to students after the debate©David Fisher, Fisher Studios Ltd.

After addressing his initial organisational priorities, Mr Čeferin was asked about his longer-term vision of UEFA. "Women's football for us was never a cost but an investment," he said, referring to one of the European governing body's key priorities in its Together for the Future of Football strategy. "And we are close to, or even at, break-even already."

He clarified points on financial fair play – "it was mainly established to terminate losses and now European football is profitable" – and why being trained as a lawyer has helped him in the role. Mr Čeferin also devoted time to discussing discrimination, describing it as "a serious problem" and going on to outline UEFA's overriding message.

"Our key word is Respect," he said. "Fight against racism, sexism, homophobia. Respect the opponent. This is the word that combines everything and sport is respect, respect for everything."

The UEFA President took time afterwards to talk to the students personally and take further questions on the future of European football, also making reference to UEFA's debt to the world game. "UEFA governs 55 associations but our competitions are global. We have a programme, UEFA ASSIST, that financially helps other confederations. We know that players in Africa, Asia and South America are playing our competitions. UEFA's view is always global because we have a global product."